How Leaders Help Others Find Their Genius


“Ultimately my job, with the people who work for me, is to find your genius, and to help you find your genius. And if we can do that, that’s the magic.” 

                                                            Amy Errett, Chief Execuitve of Madison Reed

 When was the last time you purposely tried to discover the gifts or genius in your co-workers, team members or people you come into contact with daily? Maybe the better question is: Have you ever thought about what talents or strengths people have that you connect with at work, in a volunteer position or in a group or team you belong to? Or do you focus mostly on just getting the job done without thinking about each person’s unique abilities?

 Attaining goals and creating a vision to guide a team is most definitely important. Teams must know what their game plan is and what each person will be held accountable. However leading others is not just about tasks and deadlines, but rather the interconnectedness of one another. It involves learning what each individual can best contribute and recognizing that everyone has special qualities.


 How can leaders cultivate a trusting enough culture to build more open relationships where people are willing to share their passions and ideas?

 Create an environment of acceptance

When we build relationships, we want them to be meaningful. The definition of meaningful is  “adding value to life” and that is exactly what we try to do when we keep an open mind with others. We embrace the differences in each individual to collaborate on innovative approaches. Leaders who are able to welcome all types of backgrounds, skill sets, ideologies and working styles will create a place of great excitement and accomplishment. When each person is accepted for their  “value contribution”, they are more willing to give their best performance and share their different points of view.

 Have fun learning about each other

One of the best ways to gain more insight into your team members or people you collaborate with is to play games. Yes! Games can expand our minds while we laugh and play. An exercise I often use in my workshops is designing a coat of arms that describes a team. I might ask each person to choose an animal that reflects their personality or a “saying” that calls to them. Then I ask them to choose a color that represents what they want their team to stand for. Each time there is laughter and each person learns a little more about what is meaningful to others they work with routinely.

 Commit to being an explorer

If a leader is committed to locating the best that each person has to offer, then they will. Being consistent in a search to understand what makes people tick and get excited is key to creating a positive and respectful workplace. Don’t just assume you know the drivers for people- ask them and be attentive in their responses without judging.

 So are you ready to become a leader who finds genius in those around you? Are you already committed to discovering the best in everyone? How have you done it?

photo credit 


23 thoughts on “How Leaders Help Others Find Their Genius

  1. Right on, Terri! In all of my workshops I make sure that we spend time getting to know each other in a new way and making it FUN. Games can be meaningful when there is intention behind them.

    It’s interesting, someone recently told me that they were assigned a big task by their volunteer organization and I asked if the leaders not only look at what needs to be done, but the gifts and talents of those people in the org. Furthermore, did they look at ways that those people could expand and grow as a result of the assignment. She looked at me like I had 12 heads and I got my answer. We are all more than warm bodies waiting to fill a role and when we come together and our talents are tapped – great things happen!

    Such an important topic for leaders everywhere, Terri! Thanks!

  2. Love your post Terri. It feels good to see another person who enjoys the WOW moment when each of us can give that person a fine reputation to live up to. It is in finding that is so special to each person. And yes that involves not making assumptions and seeing the uniqueness in each person.

    A very thoughtful and insightful post.

  3. I do think organizations overlook the “interconnectedness” aspects of teams and how much more innovative they could be if only they tapped into one another’s talents.

    Love your story about the volunteer organization! Getting beyond the tasks and job at hand is essential in helping leaders grow.

    Thanks so your great additions, Alli!

  4. Thanks Lalita and I agree that our assumptions and judgements often hold us back in not allowing the greatness in others to be brought out!

    Leaders who are most successful understand the critical piece in discovering those special qualities in others.

  5. Love this, Terri! I think one of the most powerful moments as a leader is when I walk next to someone and help them see their own greatness…I am reminded that is why I am called to my work.

    Great bit of wisdom: “Learning what each individual can best contribute and recognizing that everyone has special qualities.” It’s this kind of thinking that gets us out of bed in the morning and ready to meet the day!

  6. Terri, nice post. I remember participating in my local Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership class. One day our group participated in a ropes course which consisted of various team building exercises. After each one we would share how the exercise related to working together as a team. It was both fun and memorable. Thanks for reminding us to have fun.

  7. LaRae, finding greatness in someone is not only gratifying but gives them a purpose and a direction. You do this so well and make others feel so comfortable sharing their ideas and suggestions.
    I am most definitely a believer in locating the gifts and genius in everyone we connect with. I once had a mentor who helped me find my greatness and put me on the path I have today.
    I appreciate your comments and you!

  8. Love ropes courses because they bring out the best and worst when we are physically challenged. These exercises really help us to get to know others in a much more personal way. Most of all, they can create higher performing teams.

    Thanks Dan!

  9. What a great idea, Cynthia to use some fun exercises as leaders begin their goal setting for the next year!

    There are some great brainstorming techniques and mind mapping strategies that may offer a few laughs and help people plan as well.

    Thanks for your great additions!

  10. I agree Skip that leaders need to adjust their mindsets to uncover the gifts that each person can offer. We need to be purposeful in discovering what talents and strengths those around us possess.

    Thanks so much for stopping by adding your thoughtful comments!

  11. I agree Lolly that we need to look deep inside ourselves to locate our genius.

    Leaders who are able to help others discover their genius will empower them to do great things.

    Thanks Lolly!

  12. This is great post… I truly admire those who have the gut to discover people and say “you have this strength and to develop more…”

    Few are those who pass by and identify talents…

  13. Hello Terri,

    Such a thought-provoking question for leaders to ask themselves! Love it!!

    Another game/exercise to consider is the following: Ask each team member to write down and read aloud 3 positive traits or skills of the other team members.

    At the conclusion of a year long effort that I participated in, the leader of our team asked each of us to do the above. It was a lovely and enlightening moment.

    Here’s to keeping our curiosity alive as leaders!
    Jackie Yun

  14. It is so true that it takes courage for leaders to empower others to build upon their talents and gifts. Yet those willing to take the time to grow future leaders will be creating a high performing team.

    Thanks for stopping by and adding your great comments!

  15. I love your exercise Jackie and it sounds as if you learned so much about one another from it. This activity also provides the foundation of building trust and care for one another. When we look to the positives and talents, we truly empower others to put their best foot forward.

    I so appreciate you stopping by and adding your enriching comments!

    Thanks Jackie!


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