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New Podcast & Book Review! A Pod, Then A Book about 6 Working Geniuses

A Pod, Then A Book about 6 Working Geniuses

Victor O. Kolade, MD | AIAMC Roles: Member of Board of Directors & Executive/Programming Committees 

Did you ever watch a recorded podcast and quickly see that the guest was talking to you? It seemed that way when I watched Craig Groeschel interview Patrick Lencioni about the latter’s book, The 6 Types of Working Genius (1). In 30 minutes a ‘new’ concept about teaming had come alive for me, and I resolved to get the book. It took time to get and later to read the book, but meanwhile I collected my thoughts on the subject onto slides for possible oral presentation. (Many thanks to Dr. Oluremi Ajala for talking through the concept with me.) I then started working on the application of Working Genius to Medical Education for the upcoming 2024 AIAMC Annual Meeting poster session and things got even clearer working on that.

There is more to the book than the matching website lets on. The book has two parts; it opens with a ‘realistic fable’ that illustrates how Jeremiah Marketing (JM), the CEO of an advertising company, arrives at the six Working Geniuses from the ‘Three Stages of Work’ (ideation, activation, and implementation). Concurrently JM tries to make sense of his intermittent grumpiness at work. This grumpiness has followed him for years through different work scenarios, such that promotion now seemed like a curse.

Six Working Geniuses

1.      Wonder is about thinking, pondering, and contemplating things (p. 94); questioning the status quo.

2.      Invention means coming up with something novel; an idea, product, or company (p. 95).

3.      Discernment represents having great instincts and intuition and judgment; the ability to determine which ideas are good versus premature.

4.      Galvanizing is ‘rallying the troops,’ getting them excited and encouraging them to keep going (p. 97).

5.      Enablement refers to making a project get off the ground, helping or supporting others on their terms.

6.      Tenacity describes getting things finished whether obstacles to such success exist or not. The fable goes on to illustrate the application of Working Geniuses to family life and volunteer work.

The first part of the book closes with the junior staff at JM’s marketing company being introduced to the six Geniuses concept. They soon realized that Genius-based assignment is more productive than promotion of people who have ‘paid their dues’ into roles that do not center on their true genius. Consider this example of how this works. JM’s company was meeting with a new client. Post that meeting JM realized the scope of work and deliberately expanded the number of people on this work team who had the Tenacity genius to see projects through. The company’s reputation blossomed, and JM was soon invited to be a productivity and morale consultant to a tech firm!

Details of the Six Geniuses Model

The second part of the book reviews the model in detail. It suggests that everyone has:

·        2 types of true Genius.

·        2 areas of competency that they can function successfully in for a while; and

·        2 types of work that drain one’s joy and energy; prolonged work in the areas of ‘frustration’ may lead to failure.

A feature of the model is that the Geniuses may be responsive or reactive to an external trigger (Wonder, Discernment, Enablement) and/or disruptive – initiating or provoking change proactively (Invention, Galvanizing, and Tenacity). If people have two true Geniuses, both geniuses can responsive, both can be disruptive, or one be responsive and the other disruptive. (Does this seem like any colleagues you know?) Team maps can show the Geniuses in which a team is strong or weak.  There is an assessment available for a few on the author’s website.

If there are scenarios in which any of the types of Genius is missing aka ‘Genius Gaps’ there are ways to fill them, including strategic hiring. He suggests specific Geniuses are needed to drive various work conversations like Brainstorming (Wonder, Invention and Discernment), Decision-making (Discernment, Invention and Galvanizing), Launch (Galvanizing, Enablement, Discernment and Tenacity) and Status Review (Galvanizing, Enablement and Tenacity). This task/genius interaction helped me understand why I have found some meetings (or even sections of meetings) more boring than others!

Lencioni argues burnout may be caused by spending most of one’s work time in areas of frustration rather than Genius.  Taking that to heart, I rotate my work tasks (education, research, clinical) assure I’m spending time in my genius areas.

Have I seen Working Genius relate to medical education?

Without realizing it we applied the genius concept to the choice of chief medical residents one year. We typically had two third-year chiefs; one was chosen for his demonstration of Tenacity (he was the only resident in his cohort to publish his intern case report poster). There appeared to be a tie between two other candidates; the one chosen appeared to have the Enablement genius. The third candidate was named Wellness Champion – evidence that our wellness work in National Initiative VI has been sustained till date – and has done admirably well Galvanizing her colleagues!

Overall, I am glad I found the podcast that introduced me to the book. And that the book had much more to say about Working Genius. Having participated in the 2023 AIAMC Annual Meeting breakout session on the Enneagram, I recommend the six types of Working Genius as a simpler way to profile an individual (or a team) and leverage individual strengths.


Lencioni P. (2022) The 6 Types of Working Genius: A Better Way to Understand Your Gifts, Your Frustrations and Your Team. Matt Holt, Dallas.

Dr. VictorKolade is Clinical Professor of Medicine & Regional Clerkship Director for Internal Medicine, Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, and Core Faculty for the Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital Internal Medicine Residency program.