The Power of Collaborative and Collective Genius

I recently worked with a client who struggled with several difficult and challenging problems. The CEO of this organization confided that not being able to solve this particular situation was stressful and frustrating.

As a coach, my core belief is that each of us is extremely capable, though most people don’t come close to accessing or using their potential. This is due partly to the fact that we don’t know how capable we are, and we are not regularly asked to bring our best ideas to the challenges we face, particularly in the workplace.

So, I brought this question to my client for consideration. A group of the organization’s employees were working through a mindful problem-solving skill training program, a perfect time to activate their thinking and have them use what they were learning to fully understand the challenge the CEO and organization were facing and then brainstorm possible solutions. They were not to solve; instead they were to help the CEO out by using their diverse perspectives and share their best ideas.

The goal of this was for the organization to learn how to better engage the collaborative and collective genius of others to see, consider and brainstorm – to expand what they consider before they choose and act. It was to give them permission to consider moving past the conventional and recurrent ideas to ones that were wiser and more sustainable.

It worked. A solution came from the greater number of ideas generated.

To activate your teams’ collaborative and collective genius, consider the following.

  • During the job candidate interview process, test and assess your potential future employees’ ability to think creatively and critically. Though these are skills, many people have not learned or developed them. Ensure all who join your organization are able to play big with ideas to contribute and encourage the contributions of others.
  • Create a workplace culture that requires all employees to contribute ideas to improve the organization. Don’t exclude any role in the organization from collaborating and contributing. Each employee has a great number of life’s experiences that inspire ideas. The “best ideas” are not exclusive to managerial or leader roles. Your front-line employees have ideas and perspectives that may be just the solution needed.
  • Applaud ideas, not just solutions. Most workplace cultures value solutions more than ideas and critical thinking. The result is that most organizations don’t give themselves enough ideas from which to choose the best. Remember the adage, “To have a great idea, you first have to have a lot of ideas.” Encourage ideas to be able to create solutions.

There is great truth in the expression, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” The role of manager, leader or CEO does not make you smarter than the rest. Rather, the smart managers, leaders and CEOs constantly source ideas, information and perspectives from everyone in the organization. Use the genius of your workforce to be adaptable and resilient in today’s workplace.

Take Action
What project, issue or challenge would benefit from your organization’s collaborative and collective genius? How will you assemble a team and guide them in how to collaborate to share ideas to help you solve both small and large challenges?

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Pay or Performance – What Really Activates Employee Performance?

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NOTE: The full article appeared on Vistage Florida Speaker Spotlight on August 5, 2019:

Workplace Culture Can Make You Sharp or Dull

Look at the job description for any role in any department at your company and you’ll likely find some overlap between the core competencies.

For many organizations, these competencies, among others, dictate the culture of the organization. Individuals won’t be hired if they don’t share the same values (often aligned with core competencies) as the organization as a whole, and the HR team is required to ensure that resumes fit the bill before bringing someone in for an interview. These parameters are defined not only to find the right fit for the job, but to also find the right fit for the organization, parameters that are often initially established by senior management.

But think about who fills those roles. Do you see those core competencies accurately reflected?

Read the full article on Thrive Global:

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Learning How to Be Self-Managed

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The Energy Funnel Explained: Level 3

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

For those who find themselves in Level 3 energy on the Energy Funnel, they are classified as “The Justifier.”

Level 3 energy is characterized by coping, forgiving and taking responsibility. People in Level 3 energy often tolerate and compromise, but can be overly focused on winning (self-focused vs. win-win).

Notice that Level 3 is mildly anabolic; you have moved out of the fight or flight levels. As a result, more options become available at this level, and energy starts to become more positive and productive.

What Level 3 Looks Like

Let’s say you work with a teammate who has a very strong personality. This person is cheap with praise and frequent with personal critiques. You have learned to tolerate this person and disregard their strong and direct comments. You tell others, “That is just who they are.”

Or, for your vacation, you have your heart set on spending some time at home to work on a house project but your family wants to spend time with your in-laws at their summer cottage. You insist on working on your project and decide to have the family leave for the cottage without you; you will join them later in the week. Though not ideal, you got some of what you wanted to happen.


  • Thought: Rationalization
  • Feeling: Tolerance
  • Action: Collaboration/Compromise
  • Advantages of Level 3 energy: keeping the peace, getting things done, resilient, tenacious, focused, determined
  • Disadvantages of Level 3 energy: can be viewed as insincere, inauthentic, self-motivated and more concerned for results than people

Remember: when you notice that you are in Level 3 energy, you can become aware of what is inspiring this level of energy. And with that awareness, you have the choice to approach the situation or circumstance with Level 3 energy or any of the other six levels.

As you become more aware of your emotions, you see that your energy level is yours to choose. The result is you can significantly improve your outlook, outcome and experience.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. What activates Level 3 energy for you?
  2. How is Level 3 energy productive for you?
  3. How is Level 3 energy unproductive for you?
  4. When it is unproductive, how can you move to a more productive energy level?

Are you viewed as insincere, but think you’re driving your team or department toward great results? Schedule a complimentary 15-minute coaching session with Jay to determine if coaching is right for you to identify ways to move out of Level 3 energy without losing your tenacity and drive.

Continue reading about the next energy level: Level 4.

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