At this point, there’s little left to say about the value of diversity in work teams. Well, at the worklace and in life in general. But beyond understanding that society is made up of all kinds of people, with different skills and personal situations, what is the formula that works to form successful teams? What profiles manage to foster a collective intelligence that benefits everyone?
In this article you will find:
What is the key to the collective intelligence of teams?
Arguments that men are more suitable for leadership positions because they can withstand pressure better and that women are “too emotional” take us back to the Pleistocene era. Even if some people still defend them. It has been proven that both men and women are capable of achieving excellent results, regardless of their gender.
However, the more women in a team, the smarter the team. That is the conclusion reached by researchers Anita Woolley and Thomas W. Malone after their study on collective intelligence and work teams.
“The more women in a team, the smarter the team”.
The experiment consisted of two phases. First, they conducted standard individual intelligence tests to all subjects. Then, they randomly distributed the participants into teams. Each group was asked to complete several tasks. The teams received intelligence scores based on their performance. Teams with higher IQ members did not get much higher scores. But those with more women did.
The smartest person is not the one who knows the most but the one who listens the most.
Experts observed that groups that had smart people dominating the conversation did not foster collective intelligence. The world’s leading recruitment and selection firm Robert Half argues that “a group composed entirely of Type A superstars can become embroiled in power struggles”.
Woolley and Malone pointed out that successful teams don’t stand out because all team members are extraordinarily intelligent, but rather because they listen to each other. Empathy plays a key role. They share criticism constructively, have open minds and are not autocratic.
Women scored higher than men on the social sensitivity test. Although they had no certain answer, the researchers believed that this was because we’re still culturally and socially conditioned differently today. This results in different attitudes and behaviours depending on whether you are a man or a woman.
As a result, according to the research, women tend to be much better listeners, are more likely to draw others into the conversation and are less likely to dominate groups with their opinions than men.
Success knows no gender
For decades, ambitious women were advised to emulate male behaviour to achieve professional success. Now it’s time to turn it around and for men to observe their female colleagues in search of good practices that can help them improve as professionals. And not only them, but the group as a whole, the collective intelligence.
In previous articles we’ve already discussed the essential role played by emotional intelligence when it comes to being a good leader. It’s no wonder. Those who have this ability know how to exploit the talents of each member of their team, they always try to get the best out of each of them and praise their achievements so that they manage to keep them motivated and make them feel valued.
This is not to argue that there are different capacities depending on gender. “What is really important is to have people with high social sensitivity, whether they are men or women,” says the research.
The idea that organisations should stick with is that diversity is good. Teams are more than a collection of the best talents. When it comes to success, teams must be configured in such a way that their members are able to multiply their success. After all, that’s what collective intelligence is all about – collaborating effectively to achieve a common goal in the most efficient way possible.