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Leadership Gems


The Six Types of Working Genius

We’ve all been there…

In the midst of a meeting, a project planning session or a critical conversation…when movement, execution and outcomes were top of mind and yet, the result seemed to be a bottleneck, too much talking in circles, and an overall frustrating team experience for everyone. We looked around, recognized all the brilliant minds around the table that seemed to be functioning individually instead of collectively, re-examined the challenge from multiple angles, and still remained stuck and unable to move past the point of frustration. It was as if all the instruments remained in a tune up session instead of reaching show time.

We’ve also all been in that opposite kind of moment that felt like a true symphony, when pure synergy among instruments was achieved. Instead of just one or two people being at their best in anchoring the meeting or the dialogue, everyone played an important and integral role. Remember it? That moment when all the mental lightbulbs were on at the same time, the gears were shifting as needed, and everyone was rowing in the same direction at a calibrated pace? Whether we recognized it or not, that was a moment of team genius, where various geniuses were harmoniously at play and the beautiful sound of teamwork was heard by all.

Undoubtedly, genius exists in us and around us in our team members. The key comes in strategically tapping each of the six geniuses at the right time for highest levels of collaboration and integration, creating the clearest pathways for goals to be reached. No genius is more important than the others, as each is needed and found on the highest performing teams.

We all have...

  • Two primary geniuses (give us energy and are like your superpowers)

  • Two that can be temporary competencies when needed (we can get by… for a while)

  • Two non-genius areas that create working frustration (more debilitating than energizing)

Can you identify which categories the below geniuses are in for you? For your team?

The 6 Geniuses of Work

Ideation Geniuses

WONDER: People with this genius can’t help but question how things could be better. They’re troubled when seeing unmet potential and are constantly curious and driven to change things.

INVENTION: This genius is all about creativity and innovation. People who have this genius love to generate new ideas and problem solve. They’re often responsible for coming up with brand new programs and introducing and implementing new initiatives.

Activation Geniuses

DISCERNMENT: Those with this genius have the natural ability to assess and evaluate given ideas and situations. They have good instincts, intuition and judgment about the subtleties of making decisions that integrate logic, common sense and human needs.

GALVANIZING: Bringing energy and movement to an idea or decision, those with this genius initiate activity by rallying people to act and inspiring them to get involved and/or back a cause. They often build collaborative movements.

Implementation Geniuses

ENABLEMENT: People with this genius are quick to cooperate and support others on projects and programs. They provide the human assistance required in any endeavor, and often sacrificially.

TENACITY: These are finish line people, ensuring that a given project, program or effort sees completion. They keep going past the 80% where many people stop, to provide the final 20% that leads to the desired result. They push for standards of excellence and live to see the impact of their work.

Now what?

For team synergy experiences to become the norm rather than just the exception, determine who’s holding which genius and commit to utilizing each intentionally. You’ll find greater fulfillment for everyone when they’re working in their genius lanes, along with far better collaboration. Here’s to your team sounding more like a beautiful symphony than just a tune up session of instruments backstage.


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