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What brings you joy?

Guest Post

By Krista Kotrla and Brian Jones

This month’s Thoughts from the Field (November, 2022) is written by my colleagues Krista Kotrla (Dallas, TX) and Brian Jones (Washington, D.C.).

Dear Friends,

Table Group consultants have seen amazing things happen when leaders and teams tap into the power of their individual and collective geniuses. Until The Six Types of Working Genius assessment tool debuted in 2020, we had no clear way to identify what those geniuses were and how they showed up in a project or workflow.  

We’ve been using the Working Genius assessment for a couple of years now, and we recently celebrated the release of Pat’s newest book, The Six Types of Working Genius. Captured in a simple acronym, the word WIDGET identifies the six geniuses: Wonder, Invention, Discernment, Galvanizing, Enablement, and Tenacity.  

Since the Working Genius is based on 80% productivity (what we do) and 20% personality (who we are), it helps us inspect how work gets done between team members with different geniuses. Its magic lies in revealing how we can create predictable environments that allow us and our people to show up as the best possible version of ourselves. 

-Krista and Brian


What brings you joy? It’s the simple question at the heart of the Six Geniuses model. Each of us has two geniuses, two competencies, and two frustrations. Each of us has things we love to do, things we can do, and things we may do, but they drain us of energy. Everything we do, and everything we ask others to do, fits into one of these categories.  

“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 

Understanding our own unique geniuses, competencies, and frustrations, as well as those of others, helps build a foundation of vulnerability-based trust. Moreover, this new knowledge allows us to both extend and receive grace, avoid shame, and accept the realization, “You know, there are some things at work I just don’t love doing.”  

What Does the Work Require? 

How do we approach the daunting task of influencing the environment around us? Start with this question. What does the work require?  

For instance, if my genius is Tenacity, a Wonder-based brainstorming session will be excruciating for me. If your genius is Wonder, the Tenacity needed to review year-end financial spreadsheets may cause you immense frustration.  

Once we know the unique complexion of our team, we’ll be better equipped at recognizing which genius is most evident – or most lacking – in what we do and how we do it.

Beyond this, the most powerful potential of the Working Genius may reveal itself in one of our most frequently named pain points: meetings. 

How Can Your Meetings Be Better? 

Often, an individual (perhaps the leader) turns the team’s meetings into a reflection of their own genius. While that person is in their genius, many members of the team are often in their various frustrations.

How do we connect the Working Genius concept and meetings? Simply by asking this question. How can our meetings be better?Naming a meeting’s genius in advance of having it sharpens focus and accountability and maximizes efficiency. 

When we map our meetings to the Working Genius model (for example, a Tenacity meeting where we focus on accomplishing tasks, and a Wonder/Invention meeting where we explore innovative solutions to vexing problems) EVERYTHING CHANGES. Mapping a meeting’s type or genius in advance frees us to recognize each person’s genius, competency, and frustration. It’s a great way to set our people up for success.  

Questions to Ask Ourselves and Each Other 

Other questions might help spur conversation beyond the discovery of each team member’s unique working genius: 

  • What do you see in the Working Genius team map that might explain some dynamics? 
  • Are you tapping into one another’s geniuses the right way? 
  • How might your geniuses affect the team and meetings?
  • What about your competencies? And your frustrations?  

Order The Six Types of Working Genius now! Here’s a link. Best-selling author Jon Gordon says, “This is going to be bigger than The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Working Genius is a true game-changer.” The right focus is less on making ourselves into well-rounded individuals, and more on building well-rounded teams. The Six Types of Working Genius helps us lead the way.

Read more about Krista and Brian here.

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