You are a genius.

In fact, every person in your company is a genius, too.

And if you can figure out why, you can reorganize your company to be more efficient, productive, and joyful.

In the latest LinkedInLive episode, I’m joined by the legendary Patrick Lencioni, Founder & President of The Table Group and author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, to break down the 6 types of working genius and why they matter for your company.

What we talked about:

  • Why we need to understand the genius in ourselves and others
  • The 6 types of working genius
  • How to improve your company through understanding these genius types

Working genius

Patrick: There are 6 geniuses, that all people have.

They are all required to do anything, whether you’re launching a product or going to market; starting a business; or even running a school, a church; or planning a vacation with your family.

Any work requires 6 different talents and 6 different activities.

As it turns out, we all have 2 that we love and do naturally — God-given talents that give us energy.

We have 2 that we are terrible at and drain us of our energy.

And there are 2 in between that we can do fairly well for a while, but they’re not the things we really want to do.

When we finally figured out what those were, we reorganized our entire company.

And I realized the reason why I had been frustrated with my career was that I was doing something all the time that I didn’t love doing, but people would always turn to me and say you did that.

“So many people are frustrated in their lives because they’re not using the gifts they’ve been given.

And I’d say, I guess I have to do that.

It was draining me over time.

We figured out that we had people in our company that had that genius, and could do that instead of me.

They could do it better. They got energy from it. They did it naturally.

It allowed me to focus on the things I’m best at.

Without that language and insight, we would have had no idea how to reorganize.

It’s been a mind-blower, but in three and a half months, it’s totally changed the way we work — and we’ve been in business for 23 years.

The 6 types of genius

Patrick: We believe you are naturally endowed with these gifts.

When we’re good at something, we need to realize that’s a gift given to us.

You’re supposed to use it.

“The more we can identify our areas of working genius, competency, and frustration, the more work becomes a joyful experience.


Patrick: Most people that have this genius don’t even realize it’s a genius.

People with the genius of wonder have the capacity, the desire — the joy — of sitting, thinking, reflecting, and pondering.

And what they’re pondering is: Is this the way things should be or could they be better?

The gift of wonder is important because wonderers identify a need or a missing potential in your business. But they can’t exist on their own, they need…


Patrick: The genius of invention is the gift of people who love to come up with new ideas using novel, creative, and original thinking.

In fact, we would prefer a blank whiteboard with a problem to solve.

The inventor is necessary for coming up with new ideas.

But that’s not enough because not everything an inventor comes up with is good. You need the next genius.


Patrick: Discernment is just that instinctive judgment about what the right thing to do is.

It’s intuitive. It’s integrative thinking. It’s not linear or data-driven.

They just have this sense about whether something is going to work or not.

Invention and discernment work together in an iterative process of feedback and tweaking and adjusting.

Without discernment, you’re just throwing stuff against the wall and hoping it sticks.


Patrick: Once the discerner has said something is a great idea, somebody has to do this genius and galvanize people.

Galvanizers inspire. They organize, recruit, and enlist people.

These are the people who get everything moving and create enthusiasm and support for things.

They are so critical to any business.


Patrick: This one is huge.

This genius is what enables us to lift a program off the ground and start implementing it.

People that have the enablement gift are always there and readily available.

They know how to help. They know how to come up alongside you and provide exactly what you need.

I’ve worked with organizations that didn’t have enablement, and they wonder why they come up with the most exciting things and then nothing ever happens.

These are some of the most valuable people in your organization.


Patrick: The last gift, tenacity, is exhibited by people who just love to finish things.

Their genius is making sure that things are completed.

They get everything done on time, done to spec, and they make sure that the desired results and outcomes are achieved.

They like to wrestle things to the very, very end.

How to apply working genius in your company

Patrick: The key to all of this is recognizing you want people and their genius to help you.

And that’s why it’s so important to understand what your geniuses are and what your frustrations are with the things in between.

Your company can do this.

We offer an assessment (which is the quantitative part) and a report you get back, which is qualitative.

That part will help you think about the geniuses of the other people in your organization.

“People can do things that they’re not gifted at sometimes for a short period of time. But why in the world would we want them to have to do these things all the time?

Once you do, it’s almost impossible not to start using this to reorganize your work and your team.

It makes it so much easier to organize for productivity, morale, and cohesiveness.

It doesn’t take a genius…It takes several.

Patrick’s framework is powerful. It can clear up so much confusion about how to best use your workforce.

But it also helps us be a little kinder to each other and ourselves.

You don’t need to feel guilty for finding tasks draining when they are not one of your geniuses — instead, you can turn to someone who does possess that talent.

And when you do that, you tend to stop judging others for not sharing your strengths and recognize the beauty of their genius.

We were all born with unique gifts — it would be a waste not to use them.