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3 Leadership Lessons Working Genius Taught Me

  • Post category:Leadership
  • Reading time:7 mins read

Some people suggest that they knew they were a leader from early on. I didn’t. They even talk about ways they exemplified leadership abilities when they were young. I never did. I was 16, and socially awkward, when my leadership gift emerged. I was direct and brash. I was convinced I was always right. I discovered the hard way, how much I need others. Over the years, I learned the value and necessity of team building. I hired core staff who would complement my skill set and balance my extroverted, idealistic personality. I brought varied opinions around the table. I read books, listened to podcasts, and went to seminars. I’ve taken a variety of personality tests including DISC, 5 Voices, Predictive Index, Myers-Briggs and True Colors, yet…something was still lacking. 

When I was introduced to Patrick Lencioni’s, The 6 Types of Working Genius (WG), I immediately resonated with the model…but more than that, WG revealed three glaring gaps in my leadership. If you are unfamiliar with the model, The Table Group @ establishes that WG is more of a productivity test than a personality test (suggesting 80% productivity and 20% personality).

Before I can explain the glaring gaps in my leadership, a bit about the model. 

According to Patrick Lencioni, there are six types of Genius’ which include:

  • Wonder – the ability to ponder, speculate and question the state of things. They can identify the need for change, asking questions that provoke answers and action. 
  • Invention – creating new ideas and solutions in an original and ingenious way. They disrupt the status quo with new concepts and possibilities.  
  • Discernment – having the natural ability to assess an idea or situation, without data by relying on their gut reaction. They evaluate the ideas being invented. 
  • Galvanizing – inspiring others to get started and move forward on the idea. They enthusiastically rally the troops in the right direction.
  • Enablement – people-orientated supporters who know how to help, when to help and who to help. They are flexible as they respond to the needs of others.
  • Tenacity – task-orientated workers who can take the idea across the finish line. They excel in finishing the task with high standards.


Everyone has two Geniuses, two Competencies and two Frustrations. My Geniuses were no surprise. I’m an Inventor and Galvanizer (IG). I am energized by creating new ideas that solve problems and with my extroverted personality, I enthusiastically rally the troops to the cause. As WG describes, there are ‘Three Stages of Work’. Ideation incorporates Wonder and Invention; Activation incorporates Discernment and Galvanizing; and Implementation incorporates Enablement and Tenacity. Solving any problem starts with the first Genius of Wonder, moving through the process until the team reaches Tenacity, thus completing the task. You intentionally ‘WIDGET your progress’ by working through the Geniuses one at a time and knowing where you are in the process as you do.

My 3 Glaring Leadership Gaps:

In gaining an understanding of Working Genius, I realized I had three glaring gaps in my leadership, that I’d never had the language to identify before:

  • I moved from Invention to Galvanizing without discerning the new ideas. I’d come up with ideas, appreciate them (because they were mine) and then rally the team, or an even larger group, around the idea. This at times led to disastrous results. As Discernment is one of my Frustrations, I simply skipped that Genius. 
  • I ignored the Genius of Wonder. I didn’t recognize it as a Genius. I wrongly believed that the real Genius was Invention. I never considered the fact that others were asking the questions that I was providing the solutions to. I didn’t realize that I wouldn’t have anything to invent if someone wasn’t Wondering
  • I misunderstood the Genius of Enablement. I assumed my Galvanizing Genius enabled people to do their jobs. I have, after all, inspired them to get the task done. Again, this led to a great deal of frustration. 

I have devoured WG by reading the book, becoming certified and listening to all the podcasts (some multiple times). I’ve helped several people discover their Geniuses. In my next articles I’m going to unpack my three glaring leadership gaps, explain how they brought challenges to teams I led, and how WG has changed the way I lead. 

If you would like to know more about WG, you are welcome to DM me on LinkedIn or send an email, as I take great delight in helping teams thrive as they discover and implement courageous vision. 

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