The 6 Types of Working Genius by Patrick Lencioni

A few days back, I finished the latest book from management guru Patrick Lencioni named The 6 Types of Working Genius: A Better Way to Understand Your Gifts, Your Frustrations, and Your Team. The premise of this book is that each of us has certain types of work that bring us joy and energy and other types of work that lead to frustration and burnout. Pat thinks this latest idea is even more important than his discovery of Five Dysfunctions of a Team. I first came to know about it in his podcast At The Table Group couple of years back. He is so excited about it that he started a separate podcast just to discuss The Working Genius. So far I have thought the most impactful of his ideas were The Five Dysfunctions of a TeamThe Ideal Team Player and Death by Meeting. Now I have to put this discovery of working genius, competency and frustrations in that same level of fundamental contributions to the leadership world. In the past I have read all his other books including The AdvantageSilos, Politics and Turf WarsThe Truth About Employee Engagement, Getting NakedThe Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive. Needless to say, I highly recommend reading this book for anyone who is running a team or performing as part of a team.

Here is the model which we may call in short WIDGET. This model can significantly help in getting things done as a team or hiring employees or team building strategies. If you want a quick overview from Pat himself on it, please check out this video.

  1. The Genius of Wonder – the natural gift of pondering the possibility of greater potential and opportunity in a given situation. It involves the ability to ponder and speculate and question the state of things, asking the questions that provoke answers and action. People with this genius are naturally inclined to do these things. They find it easy to lose themselves in observing the world around them and wondering whether things shouldn’t be different or whether there is untapped potential that should be tapped.
  2. The Genius of Invention – the natural gift of creating original and novel ideas and solutions. It is all about coming up with new ideas and solutions. People with this genius are drawn toward origination, creativity, and ingenuity in the truest sense of those words, even with little direction and context. Though every type is a genius, these are the people who are most often referred to as geniuses because many of their ideas seem to come out of thin air.
  3. The Genius of Discernment – the natural gift of intuitively and instinctively evaluating ideas and situations. People with this genius have a natural ability to assess an idea or situation, even without a lot of data or expertise. Using pattern recognition, gut feel and uncanny judgment, they are able to provide valuable advice and feedback around most subjects in a way that transcends their levels of specific knowledge or information.
  4. The Genius of Galvanizing – the natural gift of rallying, inspiring and organizing others to take action. It is about motivating, and provoking people to take action around an idea or an initiative. People with this genius are naturally inclined to inspire and enlist others to get involved in an endeavor. They don’t mind persuading people to rethink or change their plans in order to embark on something worthwhile.
  5. The Genius of Enablement – the natural gift of providing encouragement and assistance for an idea or product. It involves providing people with support and assistance in the way that it is needed. People with this genius are adept at responding to the needs of others without conditions or restrictions. They are naturally inclined to help others accomplish their goals and often can anticipate what people might need before they even ask. Individuals with the Genius of Enablement are frequently unaware that this is a genius at all.
  6. The Genius of Tenacity – the natural gift of pushing projects or tasks to completion to achieve results. It is about the satisfaction of pushing things across the finish line to completion. People with this genius are not only capable of, but naturally inclined to, finish projects and ensure that they are completed according to specification. They gain energy by pushing through obstacles and seeing the impact of their work, and they find joy in crossing tasks off their list and getting closure.

As part of this new idea, Pat and team developed a Working Genius Assessment Test online. You have to pay $25 to take the assessment where you have to answer a series of questions. I took it when I was in my last company, Marqeta. To my surprise the assessment report said my working geniuses are Wonder and Enablement; my working competencies are Galvanizing and Discernment; my working frustrations are Tenacity and Invention.

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