Need a gift idea for your team that will last well beyond the holiday season?
We may have the right gift for you.
This past year, our Cornerstone Kansas City team added some new faces (including me) to our growing firm. One of our team goals was to better understand each of our unique gifts as we collaborate, build relationships and strive to be successful in our work.
As part of this discovery process, we took a variety of professional assessments, some of which were familiar and some of which were new to us. One assessment that really resonated with our team was The Six Types of Working Genius, created by Patrick Lencioni and The Table Group.
The Six Types of Working Genius is a model that helps you understand your natural, God-given gifts and the types of work that bring you joy, energy and fulfillment and contribute to the success of your team and organization. Additionally, it reveals your limitations, or natural areas of deficiency that rob your joy, drain your energy and frustrate your ability to contribute and be successful in your work.
As we learned, The Six Types of Working Genius is comprised of six steps, or activities, involved in doing any kind of work: Wonder, Invention, Discernment, Galvanizing, Enablement and Tenacity. Within these six activities of work, each of us has two Working Geniuses, two Working Competencies and two Working Frustrations. All six activities are critical and contribute to the success of all work.
What started as a fun and interactive team building exercise turned into a key ingredient for our team culture. In time, we learned that we were not alone. Many of our clients have also adopted The Six Types of Working Genius and we began to help facilitate and embrace this model. One of the most common questions we receive upon completion of the assessment is, “How do we put this into practice?”
Below are 5 ways our firm has put into practice The Six Types of Work Genius:
1. Reflect and share your individual and team results. Perhaps the greatest revelation of the Working Genius is the gift of self-awareness. I will never forget the conversation between Dan (President/Owner) and his wife, Jennifer (Director of Finance & Operations), when we shared our results. Dan (Tenacity and Enablement) and Jennifer’s (Wonder and Invention) Working Geniuses are opposite of one another. Naturally, there was the comical reaction of “This explains so much!” But most importantly, it revealed how well their natural gifts complement their marriage, parenting and contributions to our work.
When I first read my results, I remember thinking to myself, “Gosh, I sure hope my Working Geniuses (Invention and Discernment) align with my new job!” No doubt, there is a moment of truth and perhaps a little guilt and self-judgment. However, The Six Types of Working Genius tackles guilt and judgment head on by encouraging, embracing, and dare I say, celebrating both your Working Geniuses and Working Frustrations. When we shared our team results, I was inspired by the authentic, honest and non-judgmental dialogue. Not only was this discussion liberating, it was a breakthrough discovery to better understand and appreciate one another. Or, as beautifully stated, “Seek first to understand then to be understood.”
2. Engage team members at the right altitude of work. The Six Types of Working Genius uses the “Altitude of Geniuses”, similar to an airplane, which gives us language to know what “elevation level” or stage of work we are currently operating on a given project or initiative. For example, Caroline (Brand Marketing Manager) is a dynamo with the Working Genius of Wonder (i.e. 30,000 feet) and Tenacity (5,000 feet to landing the plane). Caroline naturally ponders big picture concepts AND operates with a strong sense of purpose and urgency to complete the tactical execution of her work quickly and successfully! Once we learned this about Caroline, we have been able to be more intentional about supporting Caroline with the Working Geniuses in between the first (Wonder) and sixth (Tenacity) activities of work – which ensures the smoothest and most successful landing!
3. Apply the framework to a strategic plan, key initiative or project. We just completed our 2023 strategic plans for our firm. As we created our business development and marketing plans, we applied the Working Genius framework. At a high level, our plans were created by following this process:
- Wonder. How do we better serve and grow our client needs and relationships from X to Y in 2023?
- Invention. What is the business development and marketing activity we need to create to achieve these goals?
- Discernment. Based on what we created, is this the most effective business development and marketing activity that will help us achieve our goals? (Refine specific areas of activity as needed)
- Galvanizing. Now that we are ready, how will we rally, inspire and push one another to stay focused to plan? Who will lead this?
- Enablement. How will we support one another, anticipate our needs and implement our work?
- Tenacity. How will we execute our work to final completion, hold one another accountable and ensure we achieve (or exceed) the desired goals?
4. Implement productive meetings. Some of us have a tendency to operate meetings with “meeting stew”, where we throw everything we need to discuss into one meeting. This can leave us overwhelmed and disoriented as we dialogue across all altitude levels with turbulence that fluctuates up and down! The Six Types of Working Genius offers four different formats for productive meetings: Brainstorm (Quarterly), Solutions-Oriented (Ad Hoc Strategic), Rally and Tactical Meeting (Weekly) and Task Oriented (Daily). We identified the “Weekly Rally Meeting” to help us stay focused, inspired and energized to execute our work for the week. This is a G/E/T (Galvanizing, Enablement, Tenacity) meeting that is about rallying people to get work done.
5. Inform hiring decisions. When it comes to professional assessments, we typically follow the lead of our clients based on their own internal interview process, hiring practices and the usage (or non-usage) of professional assessments. Our advice is always consistent in that assessments should be used to inform hiring decisions. If you use The Working Genius as part of your hiring process, take time to review the job description and start with the question, “What are the activities of work required for this position to be successful?” We recently saw this come to life when our firm hired our newest team member, Jamie (Executive Recruiter). Our team has been blessed by Lisa, our longest tenured employee and Executive Recruiter for more than 25 years, who has the Working Genius of Discernment and Galvanizing. Lisa has a strong track record of discerning quality people and knows how to rally the team when she finds great candidates for our clients! We knew Discernment would continue to be critical for the success of the Executive Recruiter position, and we were hoping to find the Genius of Enablement or Tenacity – a candidate with strong execution skills. When Jamie interviewed with our team, not only did we like her experience, personality and overall fit, but her Working Geniuses of Discernment and Enablement informed and validated our selection of Jamie.
There are many other simple ways to adopt The Six Types of Working Genius, such as incorporating the vocabulary into your everyday language, announcing to others when you are tapping into your Working Genius and making sure your Team Map is visible in your office, break room or common areas. The key, we have found, is to start small, be intentional and identify a team champion.
I am grateful to our firm for investing time, energy and resources into giving us the gift of The Six Types of Working Genius. I am hopeful your team will appreciate this gift too.