Skip to Content

Book Summary: The 6 Types of Working Genius – A Better Way to Understand Your Gifts, Your Frustrations, and Your Team

The 6 Types of Working Genius (2022) is an illuminating guide to matching the right talent with the right task in the workplace. It also shows how to elevate your relationships with your colleagues – and provides concrete ways to transform your organization into a place people want to work for.

Book Summary: The 6 Types of Working Genius - A Better Way to Understand Your Gifts, Your Frustrations, and Your Team

Content Summary

Genres
Introduction: Unleash your individual genius in a way that complements the collective genius of your team.
Work is a chore for most people.
The nature of work consists of three stages.
Understanding the nature of talent.
The 6 types of working genius.
Pair up your geniuses, and place them along the three stages of work.
Building a happy and productive team.
Summary
About the author
Table of Contents
Overview
Review/Endorsements/Praise/Award
Video and Podcast

Genres

Leadership, Corporate Culture, Career Success, Psychology, Self Help, Productivity, Personal Development, Occupational and Organizational Popular Psychology, Human Resources and Personnel Management, Business Management

Introduction: Unleash your individual genius in a way that complements the collective genius of your team.

Work. Most people want to escape from it. But what if your job was the one place you went every day for inspiration? Sounds fantastic, right?

Well, it turns out there’s a tried and true way of drawing the best out of everyone not only at work, but in any area of life. This approach will help you thrive – be it at home, as part of your soccer team, or among your friends.

The key lies in this summary to Patrick M. Lencioni’s The Six Working Geniuses. You’ll learn how your personality relates to work, why your company has lost premium talent in the past, and ways to transform your organization into a desirable workplace. It will also lay out steps to better understand yourself and others so you can flow forward as a cohesive unit – and, in the process, produce your best work yet.

Let’s dive in!

Work is a chore for most people.

Why do most people dread the very thing they’ll spend a third of their adult life doing? You might know the feeling: the Sunday Blues kicks in, and you start worrying about next week’s assignments. In addition to the tedium of repetitive tasks, you also have to navigate colleagues dealing with their own issues.

Hard to discard, your annoyance tags along and makes its way into your home, relationships, family, and social circle.

What about people who’ve just gotten promoted or received a raise? Are they happier with their jobs? The short answer is no. There’s usually a buzz when someone gets a promotion – but soon enough, tedium writes its name on every paycheck.

A raise doesn’t usually raise morale in the long term. And when morale is low, the company stagnates. You might think that starting your own business and having all that control spares you misery, but many entrepreneurs deal with these issues too. Especially when they’re still trying to figure things out and don’t have enough steady hands to rely on.

Some of the problems around work are a result of bad choices, inadequate counseling, poor management, and people not fitting into the culture of their organizations.

But then there are people who are good at their jobs, have excellent relationships with their colleagues . . . and still have a nagging feeling of dissatisfaction.

So if a job, a raise, a promotion, and great colleagues can’t provide people with an exciting and fulfilling work life, then what is the problem?

The nature of work consists of three stages.

Meet Mr. Bull Brooks, a fictional character with real work problems.

After graduating with a degree in economics, he works his way through a banking job before going on to find joy in advertising. Bull Brooks excels and gets promoted to vice president at his company.

After a while, he loses his passion and goes on to start his own ad firm with some of his best colleagues and friends. Again, he enjoys it for a while . . . and then the bug returns, threatening to ruin his home and work life.

Not wanting to run away from his company, Bull Brooks and his team decide to investigate the problem.

First, they decide that work is just a series of tasks assigned to an individual. Put together, these tasks contribute to a bigger goal – like building a product or providing a service. Brooks and his friends now make a list of all the tasks that go into every employee’s job.

For each employee, the tasks are grouped into activities they like, the ones they don’t mind doing, and the ones they dread.

Next, they discuss the very nature of work – the process of accomplishing tasks. They determine that if a team in an office, home, or charity anywhere in the world were trying to accomplish anything, it would happen in three stages: ideation, activation, and implementation.

Ideation involves asking questions, brainstorming, and coming up with possible solutions. Activation happens when proposed solutions are analyzed and then adopted by the team. Implementation is all about bringing the adopted ideas into fruition.

What did this short fable help us understand? The universal theory of getting things done.

Understanding the nature of talent.

Where do you keep your coffee?

If you keep your coffee in a tightly locked thermos flask, it’ll stay hot for a very long time. Similarly, when you do work that revolves around your natural talent, you excel because it energizes you. You get inspired by it, and it fulfills you. We’re going to call that your working genius.

Now, imagine that coffee in a plastic cup with a lid over it. It won’t retain the heat for long. We’ll call that your working competency. These are things you’re really good at but wouldn’t mind passing on to another person. When you do them for extended periods, they become a chore and start irritating you. For instance, some people are excellent at organizing people – but they’d rather stay at home and build prototypes.

Finally, there are your working frustrations – the things that sap the energy out of you. If your coffee were in a cup that had a hole at the bottom, you’d lose the heat along with the coffee. These are the things you hate doing.

From here, it’s easy to pick out the things that inspire you and give you energy, the ones that everybody says you’re good at but wear you out over time, and the tasks that make you outright grumpy.

Catching the drift?

You might have heard that doing what you love will take you far, but that’s an oversimplification when it comes to working teams. These geniuses have to work together – and many times, a team might not have enough of the geniuses to function properly.

Even when a team is well rounded, they still have to fit into the nature of work we discussed earlier: the ideation, activation, and implementation order of getting things done.

The next step consists of identifying your real talent – your genius – and determining where it fits in the team.

The 6 types of working genius.

To attempt to list all the amazing things people can do would be like trying to count the stars on a cloudless night. However, we can classify the skills that people have in terms of getting things done into six categories: the genius of wonder, invention, discernment, galvanizing, enablement, and tenacity.

The 6 types of working genius.

Yup, it’s that simple.

People with the genius of wonder look at the world and think about how they could make it better.

Inventors find solutions, while those with the gift of discernment have the intuition and judgment to see whether these solutions would work – sometimes without having to look at complicated data.

People with the spirit of galvanizing excel in rallying the troops, supported by enablers who take joy in being the glue that brings everything together.

When they all get to the final stretch, those with the gift of tenacity are waiting and eager to carry them over the line.

Many times, when the team is finishing the race, those with the genius of wonder and invention are already busy looking at ideas for the next project and couldn’t care less about the fanfare. Identifying each person’s talent, then, is the first step. When people do work they can lose themselves in, they capture and retain energy.

Knowing how these geniuses complement each other is the vital next step to pairing talent and building teams that accomplish projects.

Pair up your geniuses, and place them along the three stages of work.

When an organization initiates a project, the workflow should move progressively from the genius of wonder and invention all the way through to the genius of tenacity.

Geniuses work best in pairs. An inventor will find joy with the genius of wonder, who identifies a problem or sees an opportunity. During the adoption process, discerners test solutions using their sound judgment – and relay certified ideas to galvanizers, who sell them to enablers and implementers.

People with the gift of tenacity work perfectly together with enablers, who give them everything they need to cross the finish line. Enablers, those generous souls who are always there to lend a hand, are the glue that holds every successful organization together.

These pairings are also important when deciding who should attend meetings.

Having the tenacity expert in the room at the early stages of a process might put pressure on the inventor. Although teams are working on the same project and helping each other, understanding where – and when – they fit in will make them work better.

So what happens when one of these geniuses is absent? In that case, the organization could choose to find and hire the missing link. They could also borrow a genius from another department to fill the gap. Or they could find another temporary solution: someone with a competency in that area.

The six geniuses can also be classified into two broader categories. Responsive geniuses include the wonderers, discerners, and enablers – they respond to the world around them. Their disruptive counterparts, inventors, galvanizers, and finishers are more proactive and will initiate action.

Most people tend to possess two geniuses, so try to identify where you stand!

Building a happy and productive team.

Now that you have a better understanding of genius, competency, and frustrations, how do you go about creating the perfect band?

Four songwriters all trying to impose their ideas clearly won’t work. Instead, hire a songwriter, a guitarist, a bass player, and a drummer who are all dedicated to their craft. These are the seeds of a promising act. They will complement each other and take responsibility for their individual contributions.

Work should be a form of expression that displays your natural skills. When that happens, you’ll feel fulfilled – and happy to be working with people who help you excel. But it’s not just about personal satisfaction. Organizations that excel at implementing the ideas they’ve thoroughly vetted are also more likely to grow.

As they grow and thrive, each individual will be able to see themselves in the team’s collective success.

Summary

It’s possible to build organizations where people wear a smile to work. This starts with identifying every employee’s unique talent – and then placing your employees wherever they’ll derive the most joy applying their talent.

It also involves giving employees the chance to collaborate closely with people who complement their skills throughout the process of ideation, activation, and implementation.

When complementary geniuses work together toward a common goal, they achieve better results and find their jobs more fulfilling.

About the author

Patrick M. Lencioni is the author of more than a dozen best-selling books, including The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, The Ideal Team Player, and The Advantage. The pioneer of the organizational health movement, he has become one of the most sought-after speakers in the world. Pat’s firm, The Table Group, has consulted with thousands of leaders around the globe, in every type of industry, from corporations to start-ups, from churches to non-profits. Pat has been married to his wife, Laura, for thirty years and they have been blessed with four sons.

Patrick M. Lencioni | Twitter @patricklencioni
Patrick M. Lencioni | Linktree
Patrick M. Lencioni | LinkedIn

Patrick M. Lencioni

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
The Fable 7
Exploring the Model
Context 177
Model and Assessment 181
Team Productivity and Map 193
Working Genius and Organizational Health 215
My Hope for Working Genius 219
Acknowledgments 225
About the Author 227

Overview

New York Times best-selling author Patrick Lencioni unveils a truly groundbreaking new model that will change the way we think about work and teams forever.

The 6 Types of Working Genius is the fastest way to help people identify the type of work that brings them joy and energy, and avoid work that leads to frustration and burnout.

Beyond the personal discovery and instant relief that Working Genius provides, the model also gives teams a remarkably simple and practical framework for tapping into one another’s natural gifts, which increases productivity and reduces unnecessary judgment.

In classic Lencioni fashion, Pat brings his model to life in a page-turning fable that is as relatable as it is compelling. He tells the story of Bull Brooks, an entrepreneur, husband, and father who sets out to solve his own frustration at work and stumbles into a new way of thinking that changes the way he sees his work, his team, and even his marriage.

What sets this book—and the model behind it—apart from other tools and assessments is the speed at which it can be understood and applied, and the relevance it has to every kind of work in life, from running a company to launching a product to managing a family.

In addition to this book, Lencioni and the Table Group have created a 10-minute assessment that helps individuals quickly identify their gifts and apply this model to themselves and their teams. Join the hundreds of thousands of people who have already discovered their Working Genius, and experience the transformation in your work, your team, and your life.

Learn more about the Working Genius at WorkingGenius.com.

Review/Endorsements/Praise/Award

“The best thing ever to come from Pat Lencioni and The Table Group. I won’t think about my team and my business the same way again.”
—Dan Klock, CEO, Bridgetown Natural Foods

“Nothing gave me an aha moment like the The 6 Types of Working Genius. It dialed in something for me that’s been a question for years. It gave me a sense of freedom.”
—Michael Hyatt, New York Times best-selling author

“The simple 10-minute assessment completely changed the way we think about our work and our people.”
—Andrew Laffoon, CEO, Mixbook

“I can’t tell you all enough how “less crazy” this model makes me feel. It really is a game-changer in getting work done, and done well.”
—Stephanie Culbreth, business execution consultant

“If helping your people find fulfillment in their work is important for you, apply Lencioni’s The 6 Types of Working Genius in your organization.”
—Bobby Herrera, president, Populus Group

“The 6 Types of Working Genius has helped me realize the geniuses that I never knew I had, and now I am able to intentionally spend time doing the things I love.”
—Stacy Rutten, professional development coach, Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose School District

“Understanding my working geniuses, competencies, and frustrations told me more about myself than the other personality profiles I have done . . . Using the The 6 Types of Working Genius model resulted in the most productive project I have ever organized.”
—Al Ainsworth, 10th grade teacher, Northpoint Christian School

“What a powerful tool for understanding the contributions each individual can bring to a team.”
—Selita Jansen, operations leadership, TrueNorth Companies

“In this compelling book, Pat Lencioni shows us how work flows easily when we unleash our inner genius.”
-Steve Strauss, columnist, USA Today

“The 6 Types of Working Genius has reframed our entire perception of our effectiveness as a team.”
—Mark Stuckey, assistant high school principal, Solanco School District

“The 6 Types of Working Genius has transformed my interaction with volunteers . . . I am striving to never place a volunteer in an area outside of their geniuses.”
—Carmen Halsey, director of leadership development, Illinois Baptist State Association

“The 6 Types of Working Genius will empower every manager to affect positive change for their people, and be responsible for improving their productivity, both personally, as well as professionally.”
—Sam Weinstein, CEO, Specialty Care Inc.

“I enjoyed The 6 Types of Working Genius immensely, and my mind is racing with how I can incorporate the insights gleaned from it into my company’s operations.”
—David Macias, co-founder and president, Thirty Tigers

“After many years in marriage and business together, I questioned if my wife hated all my ideas. Before the The 6 Types of Working Genius, I saw her discernment as conflict instead of complement. Taking the assessment was the best anniversary gift!”
—Heath Ellenberger, operational partner, OrangeTheory Fitness

“I’ve lived under constant pressure to always be creative and inventive. I’ve felt judged for not being good in those areas. It’s such a relief to finally understand that these are not my gifts and that I have other geniuses I can leverage.”
—Kevin Tranel, campus pastor, The Chapel

“Your life will be transformed by aligning your work to your genius.”
—Ellen Twomey, founder, You are techY

“This is the simplest and most useful tool that I have come across to quickly improve personal and team energy, understanding, and productivity.”
—Bates Alheit, senior consultant, Convergenc3

“Patrick Lencioni . . . challenges leaders to help their people unpack their innate talents and leverage them, not just for the benefit of the organization, but for the direct benefits they can reap by living a more fulfilled life.”
—Kelly Goldsmith, PhD, professor of marketing, Vanderbilt University

Video and Podcast