If your team has taken the working genius assessment, you noticed that an individual’s working genius, working competency, and areas of frustration often result in pairs for each area. You may also be wondering how to rectify these pairs for yourself and your team and how your team’s working frustrations and geniuses change the ways in which you work together. I’d like to take you through how we incorporated the working genius model here at Dexcomm for our senior leadership team.   

As an example, I will show you our team’s combined geniuses and frustrations. I will also explain how two factors- working at the right altitude and having full team coverage- more than anything, is driving success for our team. Let’s begin with our working geniuses and frustrations shown as a team.  

Working Genius Breakdown 

Wonder has two representatives, which is a good thing. As the senior leadership team for a growing small to medium sized business, we need to continue to think of what is next. As Lencioni puts it, this is “our pondering the possibility of greater potential and opportunity in a given situation.” What’s more, as a service organization, the given situation changes with astonishing quickness. The ability to step back to see the bigger picture, live in a world of what is possible, and see the greatest potential for our company and customers sparks the fires of change.  

Invention is an area of singular genius on our leadership team with only one representative, who happens to also be the owner and CEO of the company.  Interestingly, we also have run the company on the Traction Operating System for over 5 years now, and he is our Inventor in that model. These two models work well together to harness the power of ideation in the workplace. Where the models diverge is in activation and implementation of ideation, beginning with discernment.   

Discernment with a score of two is probably underrepresented. As mentioned before, our CEO has the genius of invention and is the inventor for our company. Having a two-to-one ratio of discernment to invention on the senior leadership team helps to double distill ideas and keep us away from shiny objects that do not line up with our company goals. Having two discerners also frees up the inventor to not worry so much about the quality of the ideas, freeing up space for creativity rather than perfection. The team will discern the ideas and move them down the line.    

Galvanizing is the next step in activation of an idea of project. It is also an area of singular genius for our team.  This requires that our galvanizer understands the invention and is on board to get our staff excited about it and focused on that idea as a priority.  Galvanizing is also a high area of frustration for our other senior leaders. So, we are sure to keep the galvanizer in mind when to-dos are getting created.    

One of the strengths of our team is in enablement. Enablers hear the rally cry of the galvanizer and act to support the invention. They are here to help in whatever way they can. It is also the lowest area of frustration and speaks to our core values of compassion and concern as a company. This is where we have found ideas begin to dwindle in the past without the support of this model. There is not enough support in the activation of the idea, so it never gets off the ground. Now, with enablement as a strength, ideas that make it to galvanizing are sure to get a strong start.  

Tenacity is also an area of singular genius. Again, note the high level of working frustration in this area. Our single member whose genius is tenacity must learn to stay at ground level when it is required to drive outcomes towards fulfillment. This is done by sticking to the plan and keeping standards high, and ultimately, achieving results. Tenacity is also a frustration point for most of our team. This is overcome by regular check-in meetings with the someone who has tenacity, allowing other members on our team to work in their areas of genius rather than in being required to bring the project to conclusion.  Identifying one another’s geniuses and frustrations and being always mindful of them as we work is helpful in balancing the strengths and frustrations of our team. But it is only one half of the equation. Learning to remain at a particular altitude while working is an important, second factor for driving success using the working genius model. 

Working at the right altitude 

There are altitudes, or levels of thinking, associated with different working geniuses. This is an important distinction to keep in mind when you have multiple areas of genius within individuals. It is also very important to remember as you navigate group dynamics to capitalize on the power of this model of teamwork.   

Wondering involves working at the highest altitude. This is the “bigger picture”, “macro” thinking realm often referred to in executive parlance. Note that altitude decreases as you move through the stages of work towards implementation. So, tenacity means working at ground level. It is about details and “micro” thinking.  You cannot work in both levels at the same time. How, then, do you resolve the dilemma of having working geniuses that are at completely different altitudes, such as wonder and tenacity? We found that Lencioni’s advice is the same as Covey’s in this case- beginning with the end in mind. In other words, determine what are you trying to accomplish from this meeting.  If you are checking on statuses or updates, then put your tenacity hat on. If you are brainstorming or generating new possibilities (like an annual planning meeting for the new year) you will need wonder to be present in your preparation and tenacity to run the meeting effectively.  Be intentional about the hat you are wearing and what altitude in which you are working. Also keep in mind that a particular working genius may be best to run the meeting depending on the situation, such as an inventor running a brainstorming meeting.  

Fortunately, the majority of our senior leadership team members have at most two levels separating their working geniuses. For example, John has discernment and enablement (2 levels apart). Jamey has wonder and invention (one level). Latoya has Galvanizing and Enablement (one level). This allows them to transition from one genius more easily to another because they are not making a large change in altitude.  

Similarly, working together as a team involves some amount of air traffic control. Staying at your individual altitudes ensures that you are working in your area of working genius, and you will have the total air space covered. The person running meetings would do well to keep these levels in mind and know the working geniuses for each person in attendance.  

Full team coverage 

This brings us to having full team coverage. It is critical to understand what the strengths and weaknesses are of your individual teams and then work to fill those gaps until all geniuses are represented in all meetings or projects. Where are their geniuses? Working frustrations? Are there any gaps in genius areas?  

Consequently, we have mapped our geniuses by team. There are many benefits to doing this, and I’ll touch on two of them. One is that you know if you have full genius coverage on each of your teams. The other is to understand what drives your team and where people are strongest.  

A lesson we have learned enacting the working genius model is that inventors who also have discernment as a working genius should not discern their own ideas. Rely on others on the team who have that genius to help discern whether the idea is a good one. Another is that if you have gaps or holes in your teams, fill them. Hungry, humble, and smart communicators who have the geniuses you need for that meeting or team. Otherwise, you will likely have members of your team who are using their working competency or worse, their working frustrations to make up for what could be a well-rounded team. This leads to burn out, poor decisions, and projects that do not get off the ground. You also could have great ideas that lose momentum and fizzle out from lack of support. None of those are good for your business.  Encourage your team members to embrace their area of working genius and to work from that strength. They will be more energized, achieve results, and work more effectively in teams.  

Being mindful of your team’s makeup, the altitude at which they work, and having full team coverage can make a world of difference for your business as you begin to use the working genius model. Our growing success as a service company is in part due to this model. It empowers our coworkers to do what they enjoy doing and are best at doing in every team they participate in. We would love to discuss your successes and lessons learned in your service company.    

Dexcomm is a Louisiana-based corporation that provides answering services to businesses and service agencies across the United States. We have been open since 1954, employ a staff of roughly 50 people, and our average client retention rate is 10+ years.

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Read More About The Author: Jarret Going