In the journal Science, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology propose that collective intelligence is primarily built on two characteristics: social sensitivity and conversational turn-taking.1 When members of a group have an empathic understanding of each other, they form strong relational bonds, and, as a result, achieve more. Further, groups that give every participant the opportunity to offer his or her perspective make a greater contribution than those in which one person dominates. Interestingly, a team’s success is not strongly correlated with the general intelligence of individual members or the average general intelligence of the whole group.
Thus, if, as leaders, we want a group to function at its best, it is not as important to get the smartest people in the room as it is to get the people in the room to pay attention to social cues and take turns benefiting from what others bring to the table.
Does this ring true for the teams you lead? In your organization, are the best decision-making and problem-solving groups the ones in which members listen well and are willing to learn from each other?
GENE HARKER is the author of LEADERSHIP INSIGHT: THE NEW PSYCHOLOGY OF GRIT, SUCCESS, AND WELL-BEING (geneharker.com).
1Woolley, A.W., Chabris, C.F., Pentland, A., Hashmi, N., & Malone, T.W. (2010). Evidence for a collective intelligence factor in the performance of human groups. Science, 330(6004), 686-688.