Leading from Your Zone of Genius

Focus on Strengths

Much has been written about the benefits of focusing on our strengths.  Marcus Buckingham’s books, Now, Discover Your Strengths, Go Put Your Strengths to work and the Strength’s Finder assessment that came from that work, have enlighten us all to the idea that we’ll succeed much faster by focusing on what we do well instead of what we suck at.    The notion that we each have a Zone of Genius, a place where our innate talents meet our passions, is a familiar concept.  And yet, how much of our days are we spending in our Zone?

What’s Your Zone of Genius?

To know how much of the day you are spending in your Zone of Genius, first you have to know what yours is.  Do you know?  If you’re not sure, you can find out a few different ways.  You can take a free 10 minute assessment  to find your Entrepreneurial Zone of Genius.  You can engage Zone of Genius expert, Laura Garnett.  Or you can do a quick and dirty self-assessment by answering the question, “What do I do that produces the highest ratio of value created for the company to amount of time spent?” (Even if I do only a few minutes of it each day, the company benefits greatly.)  What is that Zone Genius for you and your company?  How much time each day are you spending there?


How do you become 10 Times Better than Your Competition?

Everyone would benefit from working more in their Zone of Genius, but it’s even more critical for a start- up entrepreneur.  In his book, The Startup Playbook: Secrets of the Fastest-Growing Startups from Their Founding Entrepreneurs, David Kidder reveals the key ideas that inspired 41 of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs.   He summarizes those ideas into five core concepts: 1) Know thyself 2) Keep the focus on your big ideas, 3) Build a painkiller, not a vitamin 4) be 10 times better than the competition and 5) be a monopolist.   Well, the only way I can think of for a start-up to be 10x better than their competition is for the founder to be singularly focused on working in their Zone of Genius.

Time in the Zone

What keeps entrepreneurs from spend more time working in their Zone of Genius?  I think part of it is that they accept without question the idea that they must stretch their abilities into areas in which they may not be well-suited to keep costs low.   However, this ignores an essential truth which is that, paid or unpaid, the CEO/founder is the company’s most expensive resource.  The entrepreneur that sacrifices the employment of their Zone of Genius for a few thousand bucks per year does so at the expense of the growth of their company.  A start up that doesn’t start up quickly may be destined to be a start-up forever.

Last, the other likely possibility as to why an entrepreneur stubbornly continues to spend time in the weeds of the business versus their Zone of Genius is because of a genuine fear that their Zone of Genius may not be so genius after all.  If they spent all their time in their Zone of Genius and their company failed, what would that mean?  Leading from your Zone of Genius means leading from You.  And leading from You takes guts.   Summon the courage to lead from You and concentrate your time in your Zone of Genius.

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Author Bio

Alison Whitmire

CEO and Executive Leadership Coach, Advisor and Consultant, “Deeply Committed, Helping CEOs See Clearer, Do More”

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