How to Discover “Native Genius” – Taking action on Multipliers

This is a follow up on my previous blog post, the 4 Key leadership learnings from Multipliers.

On Monday this week, Adam organised a “Native Genius” session for one of our Bluewire Media monthly meetings. It was a cracker! In fact it is probably one of the best sessions we’ve ever conducted with our team.

Here’s what I wrote to Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown as feedback on the session:

I can’t tell you how energizing it was! It’s incredible to watch people around the table really identify what is the absolute best in their team mates. Then the reaction of the person in the “hot seat” – as they come to realise what others believe is their strongest quality, understand what it is that really drives them and realise how it translates not just to work, but across all aspects of their lives – was inspiring! The formal reviews we had scheduled for the next day were quite different as a result too.

If you wanted to watch the same unfold in your organisation, here’s how the session rolled out:

  • Get your group together (we did it with 6 of us – this was a good size and we had all been working together for quite a while which probably helped too)
  • Read through the description of “Native Genius” from the book:

A native genius is something that people do, not only exceptionally well, but absolutely naturally. They do it easily (without extra effort) and freely (without condition)…They get results that are head-and-shoulders above others but they do it without breaking a sweat.

  • Choose the person whose “Native Genius” you want to discover (let’s call it putting them in the “Hot Seat”)
  • Read through the 5 discovery questions (p48 ):

What do they do better than anything else they do?

What do they do better than the people around them?

What do they do without effort?

What do they do without being asked?

What do they do readily without being paid?

  • Get everyone’s input on that person’s Native Genius and write them down
  • Once everyone in the group (including the person in the “Hot Seat”) has had their say, summarise and then label their Native Genius!
  • Repeat this process, including the description and the questions, for each person in the group.

Good luck!

If you give this a try, I’d love to hear how your team responded and what you got from it.

11 thoughts on “How to Discover “Native Genius” – Taking action on Multipliers”

  1. I think the process your team went through is fabulous. The idea of doing this as a management team is brilliant and I will encourage others to do the same.

    What a powerful and very natural way to energize your team.



  2. Thanks Liz!

    It’s been really interesting watching the flow on effect too. Native genius is coming up in our daily conversations in all different contexts – even for simple things like who would be best suited to take on particular tasks.

    One of the best parts is that by labelling your native genius, you give everyone a reputation of excellence to grow into and live up to.

    Seriously motivating!

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  4. This looks like an awesome process and somewhat intimidating to be on the hot seat 🙂 I’ve actually recommended it to a few clients and expect they’ll use it sometime in the next few months.

    One question – are there any thoughts you have regarding a person who has an obvious native genius, but doesn’t really want that to be their primary role? For example, someone who is naturally good at project planning and implementation, but they don’t really enjoy the work… Have you run across this?

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts and thank you for sharing! Elise

  5. @Elise

    Thanks for your comment. Let me know how your clients go with it when they run the exercise! I’d be really interested to hear.

    RE: your question

    I’d argue that you have discovered one part of the genius but there is still more to uncover.

    You could try digging deeper to ask: why are they so good at project management? Are there any aspects of project management they DO enjoy? What are the parts that they DON’T enjoy?

    The more questions you ask, the clearer it will become. And you’ll need to demand specific reasons for their answers too!

    One thing we found was that digging into the hot seat’s leisure time activities (and the parts of those activities they particularly enjoyed) really helped to clarify the genius too.

    Finally, if that doesn’t work, sometimes you might need to go away from the exercise and let it sink in, then refine the Native Genius later. We had to do this with one of our hot seats.

    Great question – hope that helps!

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  8. Toby,

    Thanks for the response and great suggestion. That’s a great point to go deeper to understand the why they are so good at project management – two people can be equally great at PM, but for very different reasons – thanks for the reminder!

    I will definitely let you know how things go – and plan to use this with a group of 20+ later this week.

    Best, Elise

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