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6 Types of Working Genius: New leadership tool from Patrick Lencioni

Work happiness linked to discovering your areas of working genius

Patrick Lencioni blog


"If you want to be successful and fulfilled in your work, you must tap into your gifts. That can't happen if you don't know what those gifts are." - Patrick Lencioni, leadership speaker

Unhappy staff and low trust can destroy teams.

So, one sign of effective leadership is happy staff.

·       Happy workers are 13% more productive, according to a recent Oxford University study.

·       They make better leaders and they clock up fewer mistakes.

·       But up to 80% of adults see work as something to be endured, not enjoyed.

Finding happiness and fulfilment at work is easier when you're doing more of what you're good at and less of what frustrates you, says Patrick Lencioni, bestelling author of The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, at our live virtual Global Headline event The 6 Types of Working Genius in a Fulfilled & Engaged Team.

So, what makes you happy or frustrated? In other words, which "type" are you?

Here we summarise insights from Pat's masterclass, his latest book The 6 Types of Working Genius, and what I discovered about myself (including my weak points) when trying his diagnostic tool out!

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You're a genius

Luckily, we all have something we're naturally good at. Research proves you are more contented in your areas of working genius - tasks that bring you joy and energy. To find out your areas, Patrick Lencioni's The Table Group has launched a fascinating diagnostic tool The 6 Types of Working Genius.

Overview of the diagnostic tool: 6 Types of Working Genius

Below is a brief overview of the 6 Types of Working Genius tool, and my own results after working through it.

First, let's look at each genius type and the corresponding natural gift it's likely you possess.

  1. Wonder - you see potential.
  2. Invention - you see ideas.
  3. Discernment - you assess ideas.
  4. Galvanizing - you rally others to act on ideas.
  5. Enablement - you help to bring ideas to life.
  6. Tenacity - you push ideas to completion.

Note, I've paraphrased The Table Group's descriptions. Their full explanation of each type shortly.

Discovering your natural gifts

A healthy working culture is essential for us feel valued. But our happiness may also depend on whether we’re doing things we’re naturally good at. Patrick Lencioni says by tapping into our “areas of working genius” MORE, and engaging in our areas of weakness LESS, we can find joy and energy.

The Table Group's new interactive tool selects likely matches from 6 types of genius:

·       The genius of wonder

This is the natural gift of pondering the greater potential and opportunity in any given situation.

·       The genius of invention

This is 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 take action.

·       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.

My experience of the tool

So, what’s it like to discover your own area of working genius?

After submitting my completed diagnostic, I received a report that revealed my areas of working genius to be invention and enablement

People with the genius of invention tend to think and say, “What about this?”

This is bang on for me; I’ve even held two patents from IP Australia.

I am happiest when throwing ideas around.

Enablement also seems right for me. I get joy from seeing others achieve their goals.

People with the genius of enablement tend to think and say, “Let me know how I can help.”

Areas of working competency

The tool also lists 2 areas that are not as strong as working genius but fall under working “competency.”

My likely areas of working competency are:

·       Discernment – I use my intuition and instincts to evaluate and assess ideas. “I think you’re onto something.”

·       Wonder – I can see greater potential and opportunity in a given situation. “Couldn’t this be better?”

Areas of working frustration

At this point of the report I feel found out.

The tool cleverly discerns that I’m not a gifted master of execution nor do I love rallying others to take action. 

My areas of working frustration are:

·       Galvanizing – inspiring people around a project, task, or idea. “I need you to join my team.”

·       Tenacity – pushing tasks and projects through to completion. “If we miss our goal, I’m going to be really disappointed.”

Like the report says “You aren’t naturally gifted at and/or derive energy and joy” from these tasks.

Yup, that’s me to a “T”. I prefer the shiny new projects over the unfinished, problematic ones. 


Each of us has something exceptional to bring to work.

Patrick Lencioni calls these our “gifts”. And, like a birthday gift, we might keep them wrapped up and unopened at work. Low trust like this can destroy teams. In fact, Pat told the masterclass that if you can build vulnerability-based trust on a team it changes everything

"It's liberating to know that everyone who comes to work will be human," he says. "But the leader has to go first, and show they are authentically vulnerable."

One new step on the path to doing this is sharing our hidden “areas of working genius” - which not only builds trust and reduces judgement, but will make work lives more fulfilling and ourselves happier.

Find out the Top 10 Leadership Qualities this year, and see how you measure up. Download our FREE guide:

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