Why Marketers need to know their Working Genius

Know your Working Genius. Identify the things you are inherently good at, what you have learnt to be good at and get productive...

There are any number of personality and other work-related assessments out there – but few have the accuracy or impact of The Working Genius. Developed by Patrick Lencioni and the Table Group (of Five Dysfunctions of a Team, fame), Working Genius is deceptive in its simplicity.

It is based around identifying those things you are inherently good at (your Genius), what you have learnt to be good at (your Competencies) and those things that drive you nuts (your Frustrations). But rather than being personality-based, Working Genius is productivity focused.

It means you want to be working as much as possible in your areas of ‘Genius’ and as little as possible in your ‘Frustrations’. The challenge being, all six identified areas of Genius are needed for the successful delivery of any project or piece of work. Which is where it gets interesting for us as marketers.

We need all the Genius working together

Given the diversity of what a tech marketer has to cover in our work day, it is seldom that we don’t have to bring all six Working Genius into play:

  • Wonder identifies the need for improvement or change.
  • Invention confirms the importance of that need and generates an idea or solution.
  • Discernment assesses the merit and workability of that idea or solution.
  • Galvanizing generates enthusiasm and action around the idea or solution.
  • Enablement agrees to support and assist in the implementation of the idea or solution.
  • Tenacity commits to ensuring that the idea or solution gets completed and that results are achieved.

For solo marketers, trying to deliver a full gambit of marketing outcomes, it can be more than useful to understand where you are most (and least) productive. Given no one Genius is more important than the other it is not a case of needing the ability to deliver Wonder over Tenacity.

As the lone ranger you can only ever bring two Genius and two Competencies to the table – so how do you compensate for the areas that frustrate you? There is real value in understanding how you can get all six requirements effectively to the table in some kind of balance.

For example, if your strength is in Galvanizing and Tenacity you are likely to be able to rally everyone around you and get a lot done. But if you don’t have the Discernment to challenge your thinking or Invention to develop new ways of doing things you can end up doing a lot of the wrong things, ineffectively. You may get a lot done but there is a high probability you won’t be delivering as much value as you could.

Marketing teams also need balance

For teams of marketers it is often a case of like-attracting-like. Many of the teams we work with (ours included) are weighted heavily in a couple of areas of Genius and have a real scarcity (or no representation) in others.

Realising our Proxi team was light in Enablement helped us understand that even with all the Wonder, Invention, Discernment and Tenacity any team could want – we continued to struggle to deliver on our internal projects. We are now incredibly conscious of leaning on those who have Enablement as a competency to help us be more effective as a team.

This can also be true of senior leadership teams in SaaS companies where the marketing lead can be the outlier and struggle to find a voice or get really frustrated. Often this is because there is not enough Invention and Discernment around the table and the really out-there idea from a CEO with a genius of Wonder gets pounced on and delivered.

Three key Working Genius outcomes

Understanding team strengths – no matter what the team purpose is (this applies to project teams as well) can be very powerful and enable you to do a number of things.

Firstly – you build an understanding as a team of where everyone’s Genius fits and how to play to those inherent strengths. You engage differently when you appreciate someone is behaving in a way that is at odds with how you work. You recognise the difference as being a positive attribute and approach it with a much higher level of tolerance.

Secondly – in understanding the gaps you may have in the Genius around the table you can look to bring in others with the skill set to fill them. This can be internally or externally sourced. It can help you with recruitment, building a project team and in running meetings.

Your strategy sessions are going to be far more effective if they’re led by someone with a genius of Invention that can let ideas flow and take time to explore different thinking – than someone with Tenacity who finds all the ‘cloud gazing’ boring and just wants to get something into a plan to get to done.

Finally – it means you can focus on working to your Genius as much as possible. You are less likely to burn out, more likely to deliver better work more effectively and get greater satisfaction out of the engagements you have.

Jane Smallfield is Proxi's certified Working Genius facilitator

Working Genius facilitation

Having experienced Working Genius for ourselves it made great sense for one of us to qualify as a facilitator. Jane Smallfield was one of the first 600 to qualify through the Table Group Certification programme and continues to benefit from being part of its active alumni.

The launch of the Working Genius book in September 2022 was a catalyst for many others to get involved in the programme – but few will bring the marketing lens Jane has. We encourage all marketers to do the online assessment – either individually or as a team. As a certified facilitator, we are able to offer a discount to those who work with us, then assist you to interpret the results and apply them to your role(s) and marketing environment.

We have found Working Genius to be a valuable addition to our team. We believe it will be of value to you and if you would like help with improving your team performance Jane is trained, certified and ready to help.