leadership dot #3727: which altitude

My ah-ha moment when learning about Patrick Lencioni’s Working Genius model (dot 3726) was when it was aligned with the analogy of altitude. When you use your genius seems to be the secret sauce that makes it powerful.

  • Those with a genius of Wonder are best at the 30,000-foot level when the discussion focuses on the big picture and conceptual ideas
  • Invention contributes the most at 25,000 feet — formulating an idea about how to address the issues Wonder has raised
  • Once there is an idea, Discernment can jump in at 20,000 feet to assess the merits of the idea
  • Then Galvanizing can rally the troops at 15,000 feet to get people excited about the idea
  • Before Enablement actually starts the implementation at 5,000 feet
  • And Tenacity finishes the project at 1,000 feet to the ground

What I see happening is that people contribute their genius at the wrong altitude, annoying others and wasting time as the questions are not as relevant at that point. My genius is Tenacity and I’m sure my tendency to ask detailed questions during the conceptual Wonder stage unintentionally made people crazy. This model will help me align my comments with which “altitude” is being discussed.

Whether or not you formally identify your genius, I think the idea of identifying which altitude the project is at or what altitude the agenda items reference can help people contribute appropriate input, regardless of their profile. It doesn’t help to remind people to buckle their seat belts when they are still deciding where to book a flight.

The 6 Types of Working Genius by Patrick Lencioni, 2022
Working Genius podcast on Spotify

leadership dot #3726: widget

As I wrote about yesterday (dot 3725), everyone has genius in a certain area. Author Patrick Lencioni has developed a new model of Working Genius that takes into account how people approach getting things done — and how applying their “genius” to the right stage of work can bring them the most joy.

He outlines three stages of work: Ideation, Activation, and Implementation — and within each stage are two profiles of genius, identified by the acronym WIDGET.

In Ideation, some are naturally talented at Wonder — conceptually speculating about what is going on in the environment, while others excel at Invention — making something new in that environment.

In Activation, some might have the genius of Discernment with the ability to assess the merits and gaps of an idea while others are best at Galvanizing, the ability to prepare people to support the idea.

In Implementation, those with the genius of Enablement are able to see where they fit in and respond to people’s needs, and those with strengths in Tenacity derive joy by getting a task finished.

Naturally, there is far more to the nuances of this model than can be explained in a dot, but the assessment was an enlightening way for me to consider how to enhance productivity based on work styles rather than personality. It also explained some of the friction I see in teams as people with different “geniuses” don’t understand the way others see the world and their work.

There is an official assessment to determine your profile ($25), but most people can identify their genius just by the description. Think about which aspect of the work brings you the most joy — and read tomorrow’s dot for more on this model.

The 6 Types of Working Genius by Patrick Lencioni, 2022

leadership dot #3725: geniuses

It used to be that the term “genius” was reserved for an elite group of super-brainiacs but today the label seems to be applied in a variety of contexts.

Liz Wiseman, in her book Multipliers (dot 3724) refers to genius that “comes in many forms” including creativity, quantitative analysis, verbal reasoning, the ability to lead others, or the genius to find solutions to vexing problems. Wiseman encourages managers to develop the habit of “genius watching” to learn about the inherent skills of each team member and then to shine a spotlight on it for others to appreciate those gifts.

In Impact Players (dot 3723), Wiseman refers to these innate talents as “native genius” — something that people are “naturally and astonishingly brilliant at” — what they do easily and without much conscious effort. She encourages people to identify and share their native genius with their supervisor and team members in order to be utilized at full capacity.

A new book Unleashing Your Complexity Genius* offers strategies for highlighting your natural capacities in reaction to stress caused by uncertainty and ambiguity. And Patrick Lencioni of 5 Dysfunctions fame also has a new book out to help people identify their Working Genius (more on that tomorrow).

All of this is to say that it seems everyone is capable of being a genius in some aspect of life. To have exceptional talents is not limited to traditional academic or scientific pursuits, rather it involves identifying the noteworthy abilities you have — no matter what the area — and leveraging them to derive joy and provide value. It’s worth the time to articulate your inner Einstein and to freely share it with the world.

*Unleashing Your Complexity Genius: Growing Your Inner Capacity to Lead by Jennifer Garvey Berger and Carolyn Coughlin, 2022

For a free workbook “How to Tap into Your Native Genius” see the special offer on the Impact Players website.

leadership dot #3724: multipliers

If you’re a manager, you may not be so fortunate as to supervise a cadre of what Liz Wiseman refers to as Impact Players (see dot 3723), but there are things managers can do to enhance the capabilities of those they lead. Wiseman’s earlier book, Multipliers, outlines strategies that managers can take to become Multipliers instead of Diminishers, creating ways to invest in their people to multiply their contributions to the organization.

Wiseman describes five disciplines that characterize Multipliers:

  • The Talent Magnet: developing a reputation to develop their people, thus inspiring a flow of top talent who want to work at a place where they know they can grow
  • The Liberator: creating an environment where the demands are high, but space is provided for people to contribute their boldest thinking and learn from mistakes
  • The Challenger: helps create opportunities for people to grow beyond their current capabilities and generates energy through solving tough problems
  • The Debate Maker: cultivates a deep understanding of the issues by involving others in debate to frame the decision and create action plans
  • The Investor: giving people the ownership and resources to produce the results — providing coaching instead of micromanaging

I know from personal experience that having a Multiplier as a boss just makes work so much more rewarding. I was lucky enough to work for a Multiplier and it was the highlight of my career, even while we faced tough challenges.

Especially in this tight labor market, it is worth your investment as a manager to invest in people and leverage the capabilities they can bring to an organization. Utilize the concrete strategies and numerous examples in Wiseman’s book to shift your focus toward becoming a Multiplier and creating a multiplier culture. Your people and your organization will thank you.

Multipliers: How the best leaders make everyone smarter; Revised and Updated by Liz Wiseman, 2017

leadership dot #3723: impact players

As I read Impact Players by Liz Weisman, I thought of several wonderful staff members that I was lucky enough to supervise throughout my career — the ones who were indeed Impact Players. Weisman outlines five mindsets — that lead to different behaviors — of those who multiply their impact vs. those who are contributors. There are many contributors who do strong and valuable work, but Impact Players make a greater mark on the organization, by reframing their response in these five areas:

  • Messy Problems: Seeing the opportunity to solve them as a chance to be useful vs. a distraction
  • Unclear Roles: A chance to provide (often temporary) leadership to bring people together to clarify responsibilities — stepping up, then stepping back to let others own the situation once things have been made clear
  • Unforeseen Obstacles: Rather than escalating the problem or seeing it as a hassle, Impact Players work to resolve the issue
  • Moving Targets: Adjusting to changing goals allows Impact Players to build new capabilities and skills — they are seen as another opportunity rather than a detour from the “real work”
  • Unrelenting Demands: Impact Players attempt to “make work light” for those around them, providing a productive work environment for others

Impact Players “do the job that’s needed” vs. just doing their job. Sometimes that means going above and beyond to solve system problems or organizational issues that cross boundaries but they take the initiative to do so, spending their time working on what is most important for their manager and the organization as a whole. They tackle the thorny issues that others avoid — and as a result, contribute the most value.

Regardless of your position, everyone can adopt the mindset of an Impact Player. Wiseman’s book provides many examples and strategies — and is realistic enough to know that most players only exhibit three of the five practices. The key is to reframe how you think about your role and get started making a difference with your work.

Impact Players: How to take the lead, play bigger, and multiply your impact by Liz Wiseman, 2021

leadership dot #3722: 700

On Friday night, Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals joined the 700 Club — men who have hit 700 home runs in their major league career. It is baseball’s most elite club — with only four members* in the history of the game. Three times as many men have walked on the moon as have accomplished the feat of 700 homers.

You would think that someone with such power and ability would have been a highly-coveted draft pick, but you would be wrong. Albert came via Maple Woods Community College and was the 402nd player chosen in the draft — a 13th-round pick in 1999. It reminded me of Tom Brady, a 199th pick, who has quarterbacked his teams to seven Super Bowl wins.

Both these men will head to their respective Hall of Fames based on talent, yes, but also hard work and dedication. Use them as a reminder not to let others determine your worth. It doesn’t matter if you’re picked first or 402nd, you can take charge of your destiny and forge a path to greatness.

*Other members: Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth

leadership dot #3721: vacant

Downtown districts, malls, and retail centers everywhere are faced with the dreaded vacant spaces. An empty storefront sucks the energy away from the other businesses and projects anything but vibrancy.

Downtown New Haven, Connecticut addressed the problem by transforming the store windows into a temporary art gallery. Each window that does not support a business is filled with a display of beautiful artwork — so walking along the downtown streets is more like being in an outdoor gallery than a ghost town.

Each window includes a hanging sign that reads: “Space for lease…but for now, the windows are for art” reinforcing the idea that businesses are welcome to return.

How has your organization made use of its space? If you have walls, windows, or front-facing real estate that isn’t maximized in its current usage, maybe you can stimulate creativity with a temporary gallery. Art doesn’t need to be permanent to inspire.

leadership dot #3720: shuffleboard

One of the great benefits of travel is that it exposes you to things you would not experience otherwise. Such was the case while in Florida when I encountered a large city-sponsored Shuffleboard and Lawn Bowls Complex. I can assure you that we do not have such facilities in Iowa, but obviously, Clearwater knows its population and provided the type of recreational outlet that the citizens desire.

It was a great reminder to focus on your audience when making programming or budgetary decisions. Something that seems unusual or out of place to you might be perfect for others, and people with different perspectives may have suggestions you have not considered. When you’re shuffling through alternatives of which project to pursue, opt to provide services that score with your ultimate users.

leadership dot #3719: pre-existing

There are many situations in life where we are testing something out only to decide it’s not for us. What annoys me is when that decision is based solely on a variable that was present from the beginning.

For example, someone declines a job offer because the location is “too far” even though the city obviously hasn’t moved. A person decides not to buy a garment only because it has a pointed collar which, of course, has been there since they picked it off the rack. A family doesn’t pursue the purchase of a house just because of the neighborhood or school district — the same ones that were in play when they first looked at the real estate listing.

It’s one thing to veto your choice because of the undesirable characteristic, but it’s the doing so after investing time in the process that irks me. Have that conversation with your partner before wasting everyone’s time by interviewing. Be selective in what you take into the dressing room so as not to make others wait while you try on clothes you will reject outright because of their pre-existing features. Do a bit of research before involving real estate agents and sellers if you aren’t a serious buyer at that location.

Use any criteria or values you please to make your decision — but do so initially instead of at the end of the process when there is a greater impact on others.

leadership dot #3718: alliance

As I saw President Biden at Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, I thought about how far the relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom has come. We serve as allies now, protecting common interests and even flying the US flag at half-mast for ten days after the Queen’s passing.

But remember that we fought a bitter war against England. Rebelled. Split from the homeland and declared our own independence. Families have become permanently estranged over far more trivial matters, yet somehow our countries have found a way to move forward.

The next time you are slighted by a colleague, angered by an opposing politician, or feel wronged by someone, do the revolutionary thing and look past the transgressions. Peace matters.