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Who doesn’t want to be a genius at work?
For twenty-five years, Patrick Lencioni has been working with teams to help them become more cohesive, effective and successful. He has written 13 best-selling business books on the topics of teamwork, leadership and culture. In 1997, he founded the Table Group, a firm dedicated to making organizations healthier and work more dignifying.
New from The Table Group, the Working Genius assessment was developed to help you “Discover your gifts, transform your work, your team, and your life.” 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.
(You can learn more about Working Genius and purchase the assessment here).
My team at The Unstuck Group has experienced firsthand just how much transformational this assessment can be for how we approach hiring, meetings, project management, and overall team structure. I truly do believe this tool can be transformational for church teams, too (and according to the assessment, I have the genius of discernment!)
A CONVERSATION WITH PAT LENCIONI
If you’re a church leader who is ready to identify the type of work that brings you joy and energy, while avoiding the work that drains you, join me for this conversation with Pat Lencioni, where we discuss his brand new book, The 6 Types of Working Genius: A Better Way to Understand Your Gifts, Your Frustrations, and Your Team, and unpack:
- The six Working Genius profiles
- Understanding your genius, competencies, and frustrations
- How diversity helps us build better and more effective teams
- Tips for church leaders to utilize The Working Genius
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Well, Tony, we don’t do this too often, but today we have a bonus episode to share. Tony, do you wanna introduce today’s topic and our special guest?
Yeah. So, gosh, this is gonna be fun because we’re gonna be talking about Working Genius today, which is a new assessment that’s available from the table group. Patrick, Lencioni and his team put it together. You may know Pat from his book from years ago, “Five Dysfunctions of a Team.” He’s written a lot of other great books. One of my favorites, “Death by Meetings” too, is another one. But Working Genius is a new assessment that they put out, gosh, I think it’s been a couple years ago now, to help help you discover your gifts that you bring to work. And I love it because it goes through six types of Working Genius. And actually I’m gonna share a little bit about my Working Genius in this upcoming conversation. And our team took the assessment about a year ago. And through that though, I did determine, Amy, that I have discernment and invention. Do you recall what your working geniuses are?
Yeah, I’m a galvanizer and an enabler.
You’re gonna learn it’s actually good that Amy and I have two different working geniuses. And I found it helpful for myself, for our team, and actually Amy decided to go through some training on the assessment tool itself last fall. And it’s another tool that we have in our tool belt to use when churches find that they have some challenges around team and staffing structure and things like that. Well, all that to share that Pat has now just released in the last week, a book about Working Genius and it’s called, “The Six Types of Working Genius: A better way to understand your gifts, your frustrations, and your team.” And thankfully, Pat agreed to join our podcast in a conversation that he and I recorded just a couple weeks ago. So here’s my conversation with Pat Lencioni.
First of all, Pat, great branding. I mean, who doesn’t want to be a Working Genius? I mean, don’t you agree? Who doesn’t want to bring their genius to work? So good work on that.
Exactly. And everybody has genius. The problem is some people don’t get to use it.
That’s right. Well, we’re gonna be talking about your new book. It just came out a couple days ago and it’s called “Working Genius.” And so, I’m a little slow though. So someone else had to point out to me that the six different profiles that you write about in your book are descriptive words that spell out the word widget. And this makes me think there may be a flaw in your assessment since it indicates my genius is discernment. So anyone with discernment probably should have picked that up on their own, but I digress.
Actually, quite the opposite. I’m the same way. Like I can discern really things and then I’ll miss something super obvious. So sometimes we don’t notice the most obvious things cause we’re looking for these deeper connections and things. And we didn’t sit down, we didn’t try to make it spell widget until we got to toward the end. And I was like, okay, we’re gonna find a T word because I’m not gonna make this widger. Well, so we didn’t do it on purpose.
With that set up, can you quickly kind of give us an overview of the six profiles?
Yes. So it’s the book is “The Six Types of Working Genius” and all work requires all six of these geniuses at some point. So here they are. I’ll go very fast. The first one is a genius of wonder. People that like to ponder things, ask questions, notice things around them. They’re looking for potential and they’re asking questions. That’s a genius. It really is. And it’s the beginning of every project or program or any endeavor. The next one is a genius of invention. That’s a person who naturally gets joy and energy from coming up with new ideas and solutions. And I have this. You have this. We wake up in the morning like, oh, please let me invent something new. Sometimes it’s not necessary. Sometimes it is, but we do it naturally. It’s a God given gift. It’s a talent. And so invention is next. Solving the problem with some original thinking. The next one is called discernment. That’s not discerning your vocation like people do in the religious world, but it’s gut feel. It’s instinct. It’s like pattern recognition, and you know, just having really good intuition, not data driven or linear thinking, but more like, Hey, I think I’ve seen this before. And I’m an integrative thinker. And so those kind of people have great judgment, which is just based on gut, and it’s a real gift. The next one is galvanizing. Galvanizing is the gift of rallying the troops. Some people love to get people moving, inspire them and remind them and keep ’em going. And like, Hey, let’s get excited again. There are people that wake up in the morning and like, if I could only do that in my job, I’d be so happy. The next one is the genius of enablement, which sounds bad in the world of addiction, you know, enabling somebody, but it’s good to enable people to get things going. They respond to the galvanizer. They’re like, please let me help. I love to help people realize their dreams, and I’ll do whatever you need. And that is a gift it’s not just about being nice. And just because you’re a follower of Jesus doesn’t mean this is your genius, because it’s not mine. And I feel guilty about it, but it’s just, I’m not good at that. I still have to do it sometimes, but it’s not a natural thing for me. Finally, the last genius is called the genius of tenacity, which is not just helping, but finishing things. There are people in the world, again, I cannot relate to them who wake up in the morning and say, just let me finish things. Let me cross things off a list. Let me dog things and overcome obstacles. They’re tenacious, and they like to finish things. I, early in a process, lose interest in the finishing part and want to move on to the next thing. So sometimes I have to find people that are good at this, or I have to force myself to do it or have somebody else force me to do it. So that that’s what they are: wonder, invention, discernment, galvanizing, enablement and tenacity.
Yeah. That tenacity thing. I am so thankful for Jacinta on our team because she brings the tenacity. See, I almost just named her tenacity.
Yeah. She brings the tenacity to our team. So, Pat, your book and the assessment help us identify our working genius, our working competency and our working frustration. What’s the difference between those three categories?
Well, that’s a great question. Is it turns out everyone has two of these six things, only two, that are their working genius. This is where they get joy and energy. And as a result, they’re naturally good. It’s a God given gift. Now I like to say that’s like taking a, you know, one of those thermos who, you know, who makes the thermos, who’s the big Thermos maker these days? Yeti! If you pour coffee into one of those and put the lid on it, it will hold it’s energy, it’s heat, for a long time. I mean, you can open it up three hours later and it’ll burn you, you know, and that’s your working genius. You can hold your energy. You can work for 12 hours in your area of genius and still be fired up and really excited. You’re getting joy and energy from that. That’s a working genius. Now in the middle is your working competency where you’re pretty good at it. It doesn’t really feed you. You can do it for a while, but eventually you lose your steam. That’s like pouring coffee into a cup at Starbucks and putting a lid on it, and it’ll hold its energy for a while, but it’ll eventually go cold. While you’re working frustration is the last two. Those are the things that drain you of your energy. That’s the coffee you pour into a cup and there’s a little hole in the bottom and it just drains right out right away. It doesn’t hold it at all. And each of us has two of these areas of genius that are our frustration, that we can’t do them hardly at all without losing our steam. And they drain us of energy and joy. And we’re usually not very good at them. And if we don’t know what our geniuses, competencies and frustrations are, it’s really tough to properly steward the gifts God gives us in the work we do. And so those are the three different categories, and we all need to understand what they are.
Yeah. So I wanna circle back to those working competencies and the working genius and working frustration. But before we do that, I can, you know, I can see how understanding my wiring is helpful to know where I can best leverage my strengths and abilities, but the Working Genius, it’s not just for individuals. It’s also for teams. Am I right?
Yeah. When we first came up with this, it was by accident. I just wanted to figure out why I was grumpy at work a lot, even though I loved the people I worked with and I loved my firm, and it was because I was doing things outside of my genius too often. And then though we looked at it and we categorized everybody else. And we were like, oh my gosh, we have gaps. And we have people that are good at things, and we’re not actually asking them to do them. And we were relying on things like job titles, like, well, that’s your title. We’re like, hey, forget about job titles. You’re great at that. And so like, I, for instance, don’t like to galvanize very much. I do it okay. But I don’t wanna come to work every day and have to push the ball. I like to invent and discern, and then I was getting grumpy. And so Cody, a guy in my organization, we did his type and he’s like, I love to galvanize. I said, you’re the new chief galvanizing officer, my friend. And he’s like, really? But I haven’t been here that long. Do I deserve to get to do that? It’s like, no, God gave you a gift in that area, and I’m gonna let you use it. It’s gonna let me use my gifts. And you know, one plus one is five in that situation. And so we’ve gotten more done in less time as a result of that. And that’s what this is all about. It’s really a productivity tool, and that’s just as relevant for churches as anywhere else. In fact, I would say it’s more relevant because what churches do is more important than other organizations and productivity matters.
Absolutely. Absolutely. We have a pretty important mission path that we’re trying to get accomplished.
Sometimes convincing people that work in a church, that they have an organization that’s more important than the software company or the technology company down the street or the fast food chain. They don’t realize, no, what we do is most important. So let’s get the most out of our time and energy. Back to you.
Yes. Well, Pat, now that I have you cornered as a guest on today’s podcast, I’m going to selfishly let you coach me a bit. So here’s the deal. I took the working genius assessment. It indicated, and I can confirm this just from who I am, my experience and what I’ve seen in myself, invention and discernment are my working genius. So how should that shape where I invest my time and how I lead my team?
Okay. So you and I share the same two, so we have the same pairing, and we have names for every pair and you’re what’s called at discriminating ideator. What that means is not only do you come up with new ideas, that’s the invention part, but you’re really good at evaluating like in real time, like, is that a good one or is that? So of the ideas you come up with, a pretty high percentage of ’em you’ve already thought through. Now there’s other people, my wife is one of ’em, she’s a wonder invention. So she’s what’s called a creative dreamer. Well, she just throws stuff out there, and her head’s way up there in the clouds and it’s beautiful, but she then needs somebody to come along and discern whether or not that idea is workable. And maybe half of are good half of them aren’t. She’s fine with that. You and I are particularly, it matters to us to not just come up with an idea, but we discern it in real time. And so our hit rate on those ideas is pretty good. But when I look at your results, the one thing you don’t like is to G, Galvanize.
And so like, you’re really good at coming up with an idea, but you’re like, please don’t make me sell this again and again and again. Please don’t make me come in and remind people or try to provoke them to keep moving. Cause that is one of the things that drives you…making people do things that they’re not naturally inclined to do is one of your…It’s your kryptonite.
Yeah. Well, so you mentioned it. Yeah, you’re absolutely right. But you mentioned it, you know, when it comes to working frustrations, galvanizing and enablement are the top of my list, and it seems like that genius that you need that to lead a team and bring the best out of others. So here I am as a leader, I have these working frustrations of galvanizing and enablement. So I guess the question is, Coach, should I actually be leading the team or am I in the wrong job?
The answer to that is this. No matter what your type is, you can lead an organization. As long as you do two things. You know what your weaknesses are, and you surround people who can fill the gaps in. Self awareness is more important than what your type is. So here’s the thing. For you, and I’m speaking to myself here to a large extent, Tony, is like your favorite meeting is like a brainstorming meeting or a strategy setting meeting. And so during those meetings, you’re at your best, and your organization needs you and that’s great. You’re at your best. Then you’re implementing ideas, and you should go to those meetings and you should be less inclined to jump in and take over. Because what we tend to do is make every meeting about the things we’re good at. And when you go to a meeting and you say, oh, this is a GT meeting, get things done, rally people to finish something. You’re gonna go to that meeting. And you’re gonna say, I’m gonna sit here. I’m gonna sit on my hands a little bit. And if you guys need me to do something, let me know, but I will not entertain the fun I like to do. Cause for years I would turn every meeting into a strategy session. And there are times when it’s like, we don’t need your ideas right now. We need your help in finishing. Now here’s the deal, Tony. It’s okay that sometimes you have to do enabling work, but don’t make yourself do it a lot, cause you’re not great at it. And it robs you from spending your time on the things you’re best at. So this is not permission to abdicate things that you don’t like. It’s permission to do them as little as you can in service of your organization. Does that make sense?
It certainly does. And it really then speaks again to the strength of the team as a whole. We need everybody to bring their working genius for the team to have the greatest impact. So, Pat, tell me if this rings true from your experience. Leaders many times, though, think they were just born to lead. And because of that, when they go to hire other people, they tend to look for those people that are wired just like themselves. And it seems like that could actually be a recipe for disaster in the long run.
Because you might end up with a team of a team of people that they all have the same working genius and they all have the same working frustration. So what’s your experience? And how do we combat this?
Yeah, it is a recipe for disaster. Let me tell you a quick story. I worked with a company, a really big technology company, right after the assessment came out. This assessment’s been out for about two years. The book is just out within the last few days. So, this executive team for this massive technology company took the assessment. Now they had been around for 30 years, and for the last 10 they have been lagging the industry in terms of technology and innovation. They’re just behind the curve. Luckily they have old products that keep selling, but they’re really bummed out. We don’t have anything that’s innovative. We’re always behind. And it’s kind of embarrassing and disappointing. So they took the assessment, and here’s what they found, Tony. No one on their team had wonder as a genius. No one on the team. In fact, almost every single one of them had it as a working frustration. So they hated the idea of sitting around pondering, like what’s going on? What should we be doing? And the CFO, who was not a wonder, he looked at this and said, well this is our problem right here. We do not sit around a room and just asked questions about the market and the environment and our customers and what they might want. We always have a to-do list. We always crank on things, and we close deals, but we never sit back and notice what’s going on around us. And he said, if we don’t hire a wonderer or build time into our schedule to do wondering, we are never gonna catch up. The second thing they noticed is that only one person on the team. Now, mind you, this is a technology company. Only one person on the team had invention as a genius.
Oh my goodness. Wow.
And he was the lawyer.
I don’t know if we want our attorneys inventing things, Pat. I don’t know,
Not in the world of legal, but you know what they did? They literally, and they did this like within an hour in talking about this. They said, Hey, Mr. Lawyer, you’re gonna be in charge of new technology acquisition.
A year later I went back and I said, Hey, I wonder how that guy’s doing. And I was really bummed cause he was no longer in charge of legal. They had moved him. And then I said, oh no, this is awesome. They moved him completely out of legal. His whole job was now focused. See they, you have a genius.
We’re gonna turn you loose to do what you’re a genius at rather than make you sit, and in churches this is so important because there can be no silos in a church. You know, people can’t say, well, the worship or the music side of the church is not sinking, but the outreach is. It’s like, no, no, no, if we’re sinking, we’re sinking. We’re all in one boat. And if somebody has a natural, God-given talent that would be well used in another part of the church, by all means, let them do that. God intends us to tap into all of our talents. And I have had so many pastors, you know, churches have used our stuff so much, and we’ve had numerous pastors say, I felt guilty about being a pastor for years, Tony. They were saying, because I couldn’t write a homily or a sermon to save my life. And I thought I’m a fraud. They literally said I would go and go, well, gee, I’ll look at all these pastors, especially the well known ones. They’re so good at this. And then they took the working genius and they said, I don’t have W or I. And then I’d look at it. I say, well, you have D and E. Are you like a really good counselor? And you like small groups and helping people? And yeah, I love that. Well, that’s the kind of pastor you are. Is there somebody on your team that has W and I? And they’re like, oh yeah, I have this volunteer who’s great at that. They can help you with your sermon and homily. So it’s like, none of us are meant to do this on our own. Granted there’s other pastors. This is even harder, I think, that are W & I’s. They’re really good at like walking in the woods and listening to what God is prompting them to do in their homily. But they’re like, I really don’t like, they don’t have E, and they’re like, when people come to me and they just need me to listen, it’s actually really hard. And they feel guilty. Like I’m not a kind person. It’s like, no, every pastor is a different kind. And sit down with your staff and say to people, okay. I might be the pastor. And these are the things I focus on, but I need people to fill in the gaps over here. And these guys went from feeling guilty and like frauds to really leaning into who God made them to be.
Yeah, that’s good. Well, Pat, we do, we have a lot of pastors and church leaders who listen to the podcast. And so any specific encouragement you want to give them as they’re leading their teams and their congregations or parishes?
Yeah, absolutely. So first of all, use this for staffing and hiring. And this is what I mean. Let’s say you’re trying to hire a new youth minister, a person to run youth ministry at your church. So you go out and you say, well, let’s find people who are good at youth ministry or have a background in it. The first thing I’d say is, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. What kind of youth minister do you want? Do you want one that’s gonna conceive of new programs? They’re gonna be like inventing and designing programs? Or do you have a good curriculum and you want somebody who’s really good at implementing it and recruiting volunteers and making sure it gets done? That has a profound impact on who you should hire. And if you hire somebody who’s an all star youth minister and they come in thinking they’re gonna design the program or they’re gonna implement. So a youth minister is not a youth minister is not a youth minister. Ask yourself, which letters do you need? Right? And we have so many companies that are now saying before we hire, we say, what letters are we counting on that person to have? So then when we interview, we can say, hey, do you love wrestling with details? Do you love dogging things? Do you love helping people finish things and get things done? Cause if you do, you’re gonna be fantastic in this job. Or hey, if we don’t have a lot of structure for you and we need you to re design the job and come up with a new plan, does that sound good? And you know, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. A job that would be fantastic for me for the next person in line, they’d be like that would be torture. So we have to stop using titles and fields of endeavor and really get down to what gifts do you have and are we gonna be sliding you into a role? And for that matter it’s rearranging your staff. You know, I work with a church right now, actually it’s a church I go to where the most evangelizing person there is in charge of facilities. And you know what he was doing after mass this week? He was standing out in front of a church launching, there’s this great program in the Catholic church, I don’t know if other people know about it, called that man is you and he, the facilities guy, is launching a new program for men called “That Man is You” to become the men God created them to be as husbands and fathers and workers. And so the fact that he’s in charge of facilities shouldn’t limit him. And probably someday they’ll find a facilities guy who loves facilities and maybe make this guy the head of men’s ministry.
Yeah. Yeah. That’s so good. And that actually reminds me that several years ago, the church I was a part of, Gene took care of all the floors in the entire building. He was part of our housekeeping team. And it wouldn’t be unusual on Monday morning, after the services on Sunday, for me to go in and there would be Gene on the floor, scrubbing stains out of the carpeting. And I would ask Gene what he was doing. It was obvious. It was obvious to me what he was doing. He was trying to clean the floors of the building. And he’s the way he described his role was this though. He said, I am here preparing for guests to come to our church to hear the good news that Jesus has to offer them. And he was not only cleaning the floors. He was praying for all the guests that would be joining us in the coming week. And I thought, this is a man that understands his wiring, his giftedness, and what he contributes to the team the tenacity was definitely coming through for Gene.
And I love that because everyone who works in a church should be a minister, right?
A minister in different ways. And what a beautiful thing to say, you’re a minister, but you might be a minister of hospitality. You might be a minister of thinking new ideas. You might be a minister of getting things done, you know. But when people are not in there using their geniuses, it’s kind of tragic.
It is. All right. Well, Pat, I have, first of all, enjoyed the conversation, but secondly, thank you for giving me a chance to read the book. I’ve taken the assessment. It’s been helpful for us. And because of that, I had my whole team take the assessment. And thankfully all the letters of widget, now that I know it spells widget, all the letters are accounted for on our team. And I think that’s one of the reasons why we’re winning as a team right now, but any final thoughts you’d like to share before we wrap up today’s conversation?
You know, I actually think, I will say this, Dave Ramsey, who’s a friend of mine, has Financial Peace University. You know about that. Has done more for people, and not only has it helped people have a Biblical view and get out of debt and all that, but it’s helped them come to know Jesus because they’re like, you’re meeting a person’s need. And then you’re doing it in a way that draws them closer. And they say, Hey, this place helped me with that. What else do you have for me? I think churches should use Working Genius to say to people, let us help you discover who God made you to be, because this applies, whether you’re working at home with your family, whether you’re working at work, whether you’re working at a church, anything you’re doing that’s getting things done. People need to know what that is. And I think it’s another great on-ramp for people to say, come in, let us meet you where you are so that you can become the person God made you to be. We priced the assessment at $25 for a reason. Dave Ramsey, my friend said, Pat, you should have charged a lot more. And this is a great corporate tool. People would pay a lot more money than that for it. And we said, we want everyone to know what their genius is. And just yesterday, Tracy, my CFO, book editor, co-founder of the company said, Pat, we’re never gonna raise this price. Cause we don’t want anybody. I don’t care if you’re a junior in college. I don’t care if you’re getting ready to retire. I don’t care if you’re poor, or I want everyone to be able to go. I need to know what this is so that I can live in the genius God gave me.
I love that, Tony, and needless to say, Pat seems to be very passionate about this topic. Tony, what stood out to you from that conversation?
Yeah, it was a helpful conversation for me actually to have Pat do a little bit of coaching for me personally. And confirming about the things that I’m good at and maybe why I enjoy doing those things so much, but also it’s been helpful, the Working Genius, to help me clarify the things that cause frustration for me. And here’s what’s crazy, Amy. Some of those things I’m actually fairly good at, for example, managing details and following through on projects and things like that. But that stuff, even though I’m good at it, it’s actually a frustration for me, and it’s why I need need other people on my team that are good, especially around those Working Geniuses, like tenacity and enablement was one of the other ones, and you bring that to our team. So it’s good to see why all of those gifts coming together on a team are so helpful, not only to accomplish more, but actually to help some of us avoid the things that bring us frustration. And really it’s a perfect picture of what the body of Christ is supposed to do and how it’s supposed to work. And I really do believe it’s God’s design. Amy, how has the Working Genius been helpful to you personally?
Well, it was really encouraging when I went through the training and as I’ve worked with some teams on this, but personally for me understanding that I don’t have the W or the I, that those are not geniuses of mine. I used to be so hard on myself because I would watch people like you, people like Mark on our team, you know, take a blank whiteboard and all of a sudden it’s just filled with such good ideas, such good content. And I always felt like I wasn’t bringing any value. But the Working Genius helped me see that I don’t need to bring that value because where I can pick it up, on the galvanizing side and then running with it and making it happen, that’s actually helpful. And that surprises me that everybody doesn’t have that. So just like when we do the Leading From Your Strengths or those DISC-based things, this one focusing on how work gets done was just, I don’t know, really a better level of understanding and appreciation for myself and my teammates. So well, Tony, any final thoughts before we wrap up today’s conversation?
We’ve talked a lot about how our team helps churches take a look at their staffing and structure in recent months. And a key part of that process is getting the right people in the right roles based on their strengths, or if you will, their Working Genius. And if you need help implementing the principles we discussed today, we’d love to guide you to a specific next steps that you can take to help your team leverage their natural gifts and avoid the work that leads to frustration and burnout. And frankly, that may be most important for the lead pastors that are listening today. So please reach out to us if we can help you at theunstuckgroup.com.
Well, thanks for joining us on this week’s podcast. Here at The Unstuck Group, our goal is to help pastors grow healthy churches by guiding them to align vision, strategy, team and action. In everything we do our priority is to help churches help people meet and follow Jesus. If there’s a way we can serve you in your church, reach out to us today at theunstuckgroup.com. Next week, we’re back with another brand new episode. So until then, have a great week.
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