Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others

Part of the DNA of The Crossing is that we work together on teams. Starting with the pastoral leadership and continuing to every ministry, we do all that we can to not just work teams but on peer based teams where the “org chart” and titles don’t determine whose idea wins the day. That’s why this article in the New York Times grabbed my attention. Written by three professors, the article explains new research into why some teams are smarter than others.

Interestingly the reason some teams are smarter than others is NOT because some teams are made up of smarter people. Teams with higher I.Q.s didn’t perform significantly better than teams with average I.Q.s. Nor did it depend on whether more team members were extroverted or whether the team was motivated to succeed.

According to the research, the smartest teams were distinguished by three characteristics…

1. Their members contributed more equally to the team’s discussion rather than letting one or two people dominate.

2. Their members were better at reading others’ complex emotional states.

3. The team was comprised of more women. This is largely due to the fact that on average women are better at number 2 (reading others’ complex emotional states).

In order to test people’s ability to read complex emotional states, the researchers used a test called Reading the Mind in the Eyes. It can be found here and it’s worth 10 minutes of your time to see how well you do.

Reading others’ emotional state is a subset of Emotional Intelligence which is based on 4 skills:

Self Awareness: Do I know the emotions that I am feeling at any given moment?

Self-Management: Can I harness those emotions so that they work for me instead of against me?

Social Awareness: Do I know what others are thinking and feeling?

Relationship Management: Can I use the first three skills to improve my relationships with others?

While one’s I.Q. doesn’t change, one’s E.Q. can. We can improve in each of these skills. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 is an easy to read explanation of the topic and is full of examples of how it plays out in the work place. It also gives you several strategies to improve in each of the 4 skill areas.

Improving your emotional intelligence has the potential to help every relationship you have.

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