December 6, 2022

Leaders Know Their Working Genius


Have you ever wondered if you are in the right job? Do you ever feel drained at the end of the day? But, on the other hand, maybe you wake up in the morning excited to start the work day.

We all have days when we wonder if we are in the right place. A while back, I talked with a friend who was struggling. They were wondering if they were in the right career field.

During our conversation, my friend shared how much they were struggling. While there were aspects of the job they loved, those activities were a small part of their daily responsibilities. As a result, they struggled to get out of bed in the morning.

Well, of course, their productivity suffered. In their previous positions, my friend had always exceeded expectations. In fact, they were usually the top performer.

So over the next hour, we studied their daily activities intensely and compared them to their previous responsibilities. As we concluded our discussion, my friend realized they were in the right career field but were not enjoying the work.

While there were aspects of their position they enjoyed, the majority of their duties did not bring them joy. So after a lot of prayers, my friend decided to change jobs.

Recently I asked my friend how the new job was going. They were excited to talk about how much they loved their work.

According to Pat Lencioni, author of The 6 Types of Working Genius, my friend was unhappy in their previous position because they were not employed in their “working genius.”

So what is working genius, and why are they important? Before you can understand the types of working genius, you have to understand the foundation of the working genius. Lencioni starts with the following questions.

  • What work gives you joy?
  • What work can you do well but doesn’t bring you joy?
  • What work frustrates you?

Your response to the questions will help you understand your gifts, which is your working genius.

What are the working geniuses? In his presentation during the Maxwell Leadership Conference, Lencioni discussed the following six types of working geniuses:

  1. Wonder: If wonder is your genius, at meetings, you are the person who will ask if there is a better way to do this.
  2. Invention: When problems arise, individuals whose working genius is invention get excited and say, “let me try to solve it.”
  3. Discernment: If people come to you for advice because you have good judgment, then discernment is your working genius.
  4. Galvanizing: If inspiring and getting people to move towards a goal brings you joy, your working genius is galvanizing
  5. Enablement: Your working genius is enablement if you love helping others to achieve.
  6. Tenacity: If finishing things on time, within specifications, and on budget gets you excited, then tenacity is your working genius.

As you reflect on the six geniuses, remember to evaluate each genius using the three foundational questions.

“Organizational health is the single greatest competitive advantage in any business.”

-Pat Lencioni

For teams to be healthy and prosperous, you need all six geniuses. Therefore leaders and team members must understand each other’s working genius.

As leaders hire new team members, they should fill gaps with individuals who bring the missing genius.

Do you know your working genius?


Want more expert educational leadership guidance? View the Moore Leadership Moment on YouTube.

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Dr. Kim Moore

About the author

I'm Kim, your Educational Leadership Guide. I equip educational leaders with research-based and experientially learned educational leadership principles and best practices to promote student success.