How the 6 Types of Working Genius Helps Build Healthy Companies
I may be a genius, but even geniuses make mistakes. Just ask my ex-girlfriend.
In this Podcast Awesome recap, we dive into a chat with the one and only Dave Gandy. We outline the secret sauce of Patrick Lencioni’s Six Types of Working Genius. We also give props to the Table Group, Font Awesome’s business consulting partners, and the mighty Strengths Finder test by Gallup. We’ll unravel the mysteries of trust and relationships, and how they can turn any team into a productivity powerhouse.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Teamwork is the secret sauce to business success. Most of us know this intuitively, but it doesn’t always seem that way in practice. We all have examples of an unhealthy work culture and Font Awesome has worked hard to foster a healthy environment. That’s why we knew working with the Table Group would be a match made in heaven.
“The Table Group has a belief that the last edge remaining in business is organizational health. It’s this idea that while we’re writing code and designing icons and everything else that we’ve got to do to be a company, it turns out the thing that makes us the most productive in the long run, the thing that has the biggest leverage on how effectively we work turns out to be our relationships with those we work with on a daily basis.”
The Geniuses of Working Together
What if you could harness your team members’ superpower skills and get more done together? That’s what Six Types of Working Genius is all about. Patrick Lencioni, (the author of Six Types) has seen healthy and unhealthy teams alike and realized that the healthy ones display six unique working styles. These geniuses are:
“The six types of working genius is fascinating because it looks at the life cycle of a project from ideation all the way through to creation. And it turns out different people like working in different phases of that process. And the six types of working genius exist to tell you which ones you have strengths in and which ones that you’re not as strong in.”
(By the way, the Six Types spell out the acronym “Widget” if you hadn’t noticed.)
Each genius brings a unique superpower to the team and we’ll unravel their magic and see how they contribute to the bigger picture.
Building Trust and Relationships
At Font Awesome we wholeheartedly believe that building trust and relationships within a team is just as important as technical skills. Fortunately, we’ve gotten fantastic coaching on this from the Table Group. They know that when team members trust and support each other, magic happens.
“Can you trust the person next to you? And this is not a do I think they’re lying to me or not? This is a kind of trust based on experience. Is this person there for me? When I know the reality of people’s intentions, Is this person committed to do right by me? Are they committed to do right by us in this organization? Can I trust this person?
Font Awesome is a company of nerds who like people. That’s what makes us different. We’re not nerds who like machines. We’re nerds who like people. That’s what we like. That’s what we care about first. And we get and we understand that the way that we are going to work fastest is when we are all working together as a team. We are all better together, not apart.”
Unleash Your Working Genius
Discovering your working genius is like finding the hidden superpower you’ve always had. To help identify these skills, we encourage everyone on the team to take the Strengths Finder test by Gallup. This is a great tool that helps us tap into our unique strengths so we can bring our best to the team.
“Since the beginning of the company we’ve been doing an assessment called the Strengths Finder from the Gallup organization. If we know what our strengths are and play to them and then we surround ourselves with people who complement our weaknesses, we can all be better together. Why don’t we study what’s right with people? To some degree, recognizing your weaknesses is important. But when you surround yourself with others that you trust, your weaknesses don’t matter nearly so much because we really are better together. We’re better when we understand that the differences between us are the things that make us unique and different.”
Embrace the Wonder, Challenge Assumptions
Wonder is a genius that breathes life into creativity that’s about questioning assumptions, pondering possibilities, and seeking new opportunities. At Font Awesome, wonder is a key ingredient in dreaming up what we build next.
“People with wonder strength are easy to spot. People tend to think of them as having their heads in the clouds a little too much. These are people that are constantly and annoyingly challenging assumptions. They love to get down to first principles.”
Domain Expertise and Beyond
Domain expertise is a deep understanding of your field that helps you navigate obstacles, provide resources, and foster collaboration. Unfortunately, not all companies value domain expertise in management, which we think is a real mistake.
“I think most commonly people tend to think of line managers as enablers. When a manager is doing their job, they’re looking ahead at the path and trying to clear out as many obstacles and set everything up so that people who are doing the work in the end can just run free and not be constrained by nonsense politics, and not be constrained by technology. You also can’t be a great manager without understanding the domain that you are managing because you will be able to foresee so many other ways so you can clear the path for people to run.”
Humor: The Glue that Bonds
Laughter is like glue that helps hold a team together. At least that’s how it works for us. A key Font Awesome value is “deliver the punchline.” At Font Awesome we understand the importance of humor in fostering a diverse and collaborative environment. It breaks down barriers, creates a relaxed atmosphere, and encourages the free exchange of ideas.
“So if you are in a pure blue sky kind of meeting, and you’re asking ‘what do we want to do next as a business?’ Well, you’re living in some combination of wonder and invention and discernment all at the same time. Now you’ve got to be careful. You don’t go too strong on discernment too early or else you really might squish some of those really interesting ideas because it turns out some of the craziest ideas out there aren’t good on their own. I mean, you can wrap it in a joke and that actually works pretty well, and gets other people thinking in a different direction. This is actually why humor is such a key part of this phase. That’s humility, right?”
Living in the Geniuses
When each team member recognizes their strengths and embraces their working genius, a company can become a well-oiled machine. We do our very best to allow individuals to shine in their areas of genius, so they can create a more efficient, collaborative, and productive environment.
“If people are living in their working geniuses, they’re going to be more satisfied at work. You want to get rid of churn, right? If they’re more satisfied in what they’re doing, they’re going to stick around longer. It’s one of the saddest things in tech that people leave at an average of 18 months to two years, and there’s no reason that needs to be like that. So, Working Genius works for us as a 19 person team, but this can also work on any team of any size.”