Working Genius – Where Might Yours be Hiding?

Patrick Lencioni, author and creator of The Six Types of Working Genius, has identified six gifts, or talents, which are innate to individuals, regardless of their level of training or the positions they hold in a company. He refers to these as “Working Genius” qualities that all businesses need and maintains that, without them, a company will experience gaps in the process of ideation, activation, and implementation and its performance and impact will be less than optimal.

But first, the bigger picture. In general, it’s obvious that anyone will be most effective, engaged, and happy in their work when it involves doing something the person does well and enjoys. To help facilitate achieving this objective, Lencioni has developed an assessment that identifies and categorizes three levels of qualities, or capabilities, which are inherently “built-in” to individuals. He defines them as follows:

  • Working Genius – qualities or capabilities that come naturally to an individual, give them energy and joy, and that the individual is likely good at doing.
  • Working Frustration – qualities or capabilities that are not natural, energizing, or enjoyable and that an individual may not be particularly good at doing.
  • Working Competency – falls between the other two and are capabilities that an individual may do well but derives no great joy or energy from them.

Ideally, individuals can be matched with work that taps into their “Working Genius,” of which he names six types:  

  • The Genius of Wonder: the natural gift of pondering the possibility of greater potential and opportunity in a given situation.
  • The Genius of Invention: the natural gift of creating original and novel ideas and solutions.
  • The Genius of Discernment: the natural gift of intuitively and instinctively evaluating ideas and situations.
  • The Genius of Galvanizing: the natural gift of rallying, inspiring and organizing others to act.
  • The Genius of Enablement: the natural gift of providing encouragement and assistance for an idea or project.
  • The Genius of Tenacity: the natural gift of pushing projects or tasks to completion to achieve results.

Lencioni emphasizes the importance of identifying individuals with these types of “genius” within your organization and integrating them into your processes, which without them, will be lacking. You may be surprised where you find your company’s “Working Geniuses” however, and not necessarily within your leadership team. Lencioni provides assessments to identify which type, or types, of the six may be hiding within your workforce. An open and accepting company culture, where authenticity and transparency are practiced, and each individual’s ideas and contributions are valued – regardless of their position or title – can create an environment in which these “geniuses” can surface.

Lencioni demonstrates how the six types of Working Genius come into play in the process of ideation, activation, and implementation as follows.

  1. Wonder: Identifies the need for improvement or change.
  2. Invention: Confirms the importance of that need and generates an idea or solution.
  3. Discernment: Assesses the merit and workability of the idea or solution.
  4. Galvanizing: Generates enthusiasm and action around the idea or solution.
  5. Enablement: Agrees to support and assist in the implementation of the idea or solution.
  6. Tenacity: Commits to ensuring that the idea or solution is completed, and results are achieved.

He asserts that these steps and types of genius have a role in order to plan and carry out any project or strategy without missing essential elements and considerations.

We often refer to “having the right people in the right seats” – important for your business success today, as part of your preparation to exit, and when you eventually transfer that business to the next owner and move into the next chapter of your life. Identifying the “Working Genius” and its type, in each member of your staff, can go a long way toward getting the right people in the right seats.

Please contact me if you’d like to discuss optimizing your workforce or other aspects of exit planning. If you’d like to learn more about the Working Genius concept or assessments, visit

Comments for this post are closed.