Have you ever wondered why certain tasks energize you while others leave you feeling drained? In this book, Patrick Lencioni offers a practical framework to help you discover your natural strengths and work preferences, where “work” includes all types of personal and professional tasks. In this free version of The 6 Types of Working Genius summary, you’ll learn how to leverage these natural strengths for effective collaboration, to enhance productivity and satisfaction.
The 6 Types of Working Genius: Book Synopsis
In the context of this book and summary, “work” refers to anything we do to get things done—from strategic or mundane tasks in a job, to everyday chores at home, planning a family vacation, or volunteering at a nonprofit organization. Individuals and teams that harness their natural strengths and talents consistently outperform those who do not.
Patrick Lencioni uses a fable to illustrate the power of aligning one’s innate talents with their work. The story focuses on a fictional character, Bull Brooks, who discovers the source of his dissatisfaction and frustration at work. Together with his team, he unveils a framework to unlock the true potential in both individuals and organizations.
Brooks graduated with a degree in economics, took on his first jobs in banking, before moving to marketing and advertising. He found himself feeling wretched in certain roles and thriving in others. For example, he hated his job in banking, and dreaded the thought of returning to work each week. His work performance suffered, and he sank into mild depression.
Things picked up after he moved to a marketing agency. He enjoyed and excelled in his work, until he was promoted and began to dread his work again. The situation worsened when a larger firm acquired his agency. Frustrated, he decided to start his own firm. Despite a great team and business, Brooks found himself oscillating between moods—he was excited one moment and grumpy the next, and these roller-coaster rides were taking a toll on him and his team.
One day, Brooks and his team decided to investigate the problem. After hours of intense brainstorming, they realized that there are 3 phases in any form of work, and there are 6 types of geniuses required to do the work. Everyone has areas that they naturally thrive in (geniuses), areas that they hate (frustrations), and areas that they don’t mind doing (competencies). By knowing yourself and your team, you can better align your work with strengths to (i) avoid frustration and burnout, and (ii) increase productivity and satisfaction.
Excited by their discovery, Brooks’ team started to test the model in all aspects of their lives—in the office, with their clients, at home, in religious committees, and even in hobby groups. The concept was proven to work across a wide range of scenarios.
After Brooks’ team reorganized themselves based on their discovery, both morale and productivity shot up. Within a year, the marketing agency grew by 2x, its revenue grew by 4x, and they even added a second division—Workplace Transformation— due to the model’s phenomenal success in boosting clients’ productivity.
The 6 Types of Working Genius: The Model
Now, let’s take a quick look at the 6 types of geniuses and their implications for personal and professional success.
What are the 6 Working Geniuses?
Here’s a visual summary of the 6 working geniuses:
The Genius of Wonder is about questioning and reflecting on the state of things, identifying untapped potential and opportunities. People with this genius naturally ask the right questions to stimulate insightful answers. They observe a situation carefully, and wonder why things are the way they are.
The Genius of Invention is about creating novel ideas and solutions. People with this genius excel at generating innovative, original solutions from scratch. They thrive on creativity, and love to create new products, concepts, solutions, or proposals.
The Genius of Discernment is about using your instincts and intuition to evaluate ideas, plans, or decisions. People with this genius have an uncanny ability to assess a situation or idea, even if they have limited data or domain expertise. They naturally recognize patterns, and can use their keen sense of judgment to offer sound advice on almost any topic.
The Genius of Galvanizing is about rallying people to take action. People with this genius can inspire, mobilize, and organize others to get involved in a project, idea or initiative. They can enlist others and convince them to change their priorities for the project at hand.
The Genius of Enablement is about providing essential help and support. People with this genius are great team players. They readily step forward to assist and encourage others in need, and can often anticipate others’ needs before they’re expressed.
The Genius of Tenacity is about pushing tasks and projects through to completion. People with this genius are finishers—they have the ability to overcome obstacles to get things done according to specifications, ensuring high standards and successful outcomes. They derive satisfaction from crossing tasks off their to-do list.
After testing the model on thousands of people, Lencioni’s team found that every person has 2 geniuses, 2 competencies, and 2 frustrations. Geniuses can also be responsive or disruptive, reflecting how you naturally interact with your environment. We need all 6 types of geniuses to maintain balance.
Understanding the Working Geniuses and How to Apply Them
In our complete 10-page version of The 6 Types of Working Genius summary, we dive further into:
• The differences between geniuses, competences, and frustrations, and what to do with each one, individually and as a team.
• The 3 types of responsive geniuses (Wonder, Discernment, and Enablement) and 3 types of disruptive geniuses (Invention, Galvanizing, and Tenacity), and why we need both.
• The 3 phases of work (Ideation, Activation, and Implementation), how each working genius plays an essential role in one of the phases, the problems that surface when a genius is missing from the team, and how you can fill the gaps.
• Seeing each genius and its associated work in terms of elevation levels, so you can (i) prevent unproductive shifts in focus, and also (ii) match 4 types of work conversations to the relevant geniuses.
• Using a Team Map to map out the geniuses and frustrations of team members and visualize the collective gaps and opportunities.
• How The 6 Working Genius Model affects overall organizational health.
Getting More from The 6 Types of Working Genius
The story of Bull Brooks is actually a reflection of Patrick Lencioni’s own journey, offering an insight into his career, how his team arrived at the model in this book, and how they refined and applied it in various aspects of their lives. If you’d like to zoom in on the ideas above and get more detailed insights, examples and actionable tips, do check out our full book summary bundle that includes an infographic, 10-page text summary, and a 20-minute audio summary.
The book also includes examples of various individuals and teams who have successfully used the model to improve productivity and satisfaction. You can purchase the book here or visit workinggenius.com for more details and to take the Working Genius Assessment.
For more on team-building, do check out our summary for The Ideal Team Player. Or, get a different perspective on personal strengths and preferences with these 2 summaries: Surrounded by Idiots and Go Put Your Strengths to Work.
About the Author of The 6 Types of Working Genius
The 6 Types of Working Genius was written by Patrick Lencioni—an American author and consultant, best known for his works in business and team management. He is the president of The Table Group, a management consulting firm specializing in executive team development and organizational health. Previously, Lencioni worked at the management consulting firm Bain & Company, Oracle Corporation, and Sybase, where he was VP of Organization Development.
The 6 Types of Working Genius Quotes
“We all have areas where we thrive, areas where we struggle, and areas that fall somewhere in between.”
“If we go through life without an understanding of our natural gifts, the best we can hope for is to be lucky enough to find ourselves doing what we love.”
“Just because you’re good at a task or an activity doesn’t mean you like doing it all the time.”
“Success requires us to understand the areas where we shine as well as those where we don’t.”
“When human beings are fully alive at work…they are much more likely to contribute to an organization’s health, and help it avoid the perils of dysfunction.”