Your Working Genius

lead with people speak with people Jun 24, 2024
What Step of the Work Process Depletes Your Energy?




“Can you create a quick mockup design?” The message came from the Director of Connections of an organization that asked me to be a consultant for them as they update and develop their onboarding process for introducing prospective members to their services.

“Did he say what he wanted on it?” I responded.

“No, but I think it would be easier for him to give feedback if we don't start with a blank slate.”

She needed a mockup to get approval from the leader of the organization to move forward. I asked for any graphics, media, and text that they envisioned being used on their printed materials, but they didn’t have anything compiled.

Essentially, they wanted me to create something out of nothing. I’m capable of inventing ideas and content, but I immediately knew it would be…


Why? Because that’s not how I’m wired. Let’s rewind time back to about a year earlier when I was on a zoom call with an executive coach.

“Are you familiar with the Working Genius?” she asked as she adjusted her glasses.

My eyebrows raised. “I’m not. Tell me more.”

She explained that the Working Genius is like a personality profile, but focused on the work process. It helps individuals pinpoint which steps of the work process they thrive in (our “geniuses”) while which parts frustrate them.




Here is a quick summary of the Working Genius process:

Wonder: You ask a lot of questions and can easily identify problems that need to be solved. 

Invention: You naturally are an idea person, generating solutions to problems.

Discernment: You have the innate ability to assess an idea and how to make it successful.

Galvanizing: You generate excitement and rally people around the idea or solution.

Enablement: You are excited to jump in and help support the implementation of the solution.

Tenacity: You push the project to the finish, overcoming any obstacles that stand in the way.

After taking the assessment, I discovered that my working geniuses are Wonder and Tenacity. In other words, I’m great at asking profound questions and identifying what needs to be changed, which is why I was asked to consult at this organization. I’m also great at getting things done. And those things energize me.

On the flip side, I discovered my working frustrations are Invention and Galvanizing. That means any time I have to come up with an original idea or rally people around that idea, I get exhausted. I can do it (we can all grow in our weak areas and work to improve at skills that don’t come naturally for us), but it quickly depletes our energy.

So even though I knew I would be functioning in my Working Frustration rather than my Working Genius when creating the mockup, I dove in. I created content, searched their website and social media for any graphics or pictures I could use as placeholders, and designed a very rough mockup to give them a starting point.

And sure enough, by the time I was done, I had a headache and felt completely exhausted.

Though I can push through, deliver the file, and make the Director of Connections happy, I learned that I need to not only be self-aware, but also communicate my needs in a way that allows them to be supported while propelling the project forward. The ideal approach in this situation would have been to identify someone at their organization who has the Working Genius of Invention and team up to create the initial mockup together. That way, I could have operated out of my geniuses while empowering the other person to use theirs.

There will always be times when we will have to grind through a project, but by understanding how we are wired and how coworkers, suppliers, and clients are wired, we are better able to communicate effectively and successfully finish each project with energy, cultivating a work environment where we can thrive.


By Caitlyn Neel - Cofounder, Speak with People

Caitlyn is a certified life coach who helps clients discover how they are wired so that they can thrive in their work environment. In her free time, she enjoys running, playing the guitar, and going on adventures with her friends and family.