Redefining The Smart Business Team

When building or re-working a team, don’t assume that people with high IQs or extroverts automatically make the best team members.

Shared in a recent New York Times article, two corroborative studies by professors at Carnegie Mellon University, MIT, and Union College revealed some eyebrow-raising results on what constitutes a smart, well-functioning team.

The Big Three

  • Equal Contribution – The study showed that in smart teams, all members of the group contributed equally to discussions – rather than the group being dominated by only one or two people.

Did you know? With their quiet presence, introverts often make highly effective listeners, are open to suggestions, and come up with creative insights for improvement. These qualities can bring a grounding presence, particularly to more “vocal” teams, according to an HBR piece covering the many advantages of quiet leaders.

  • Emotional Intuitiveness – Members of smart teams scored higher on a test called Reading The Mind In The Eyes that measured the ability to “read complex emotional states from images of faces with only the eyes visible.” To use a more current phrase you may already be familiar with, team members had increased emotional intelligence.
  • A Higher Percentage of Women – Results showed that teams with more women performed better than those with more men. Study authors think this is partly because on average, women are better than men at “reading the mind” as explained above.

These three factors are key whether members are working face to face or come together from remote locations via web meeting tools. If team members can consistently “consider and keep track of what other people feel, know and believe,” the group will thrive, according to the study.

At Authentic Leadership International (, we can help you not only create smarter teams – but increase their levels of success through effective leadership approaches.

A Secret Ingredient

On the site, a study by Professor Alex Pentland, director of the MIT Connection Science and Human Dynamics labs, showed that building social capital also created strong, intelligent teams.

Building social capital simply means investing in the connections among team members to create a climate where team members trust each other—even if they don’t necessarily like each other. The focus is on everyone performing to their optimum level for the good of the organization as a whole.

High levels of trust generate a climate of safety and honesty, making it easier for team members to share knowledge, support each other, and ask for help when needed. They’re also secure enough to present the “out of the box” suggestions or probing questions.

With these factors in play, your smart team will forge the way to success.

Looking for new and bolder ways to manage your teams, including how to select smarter team members? Sign up here to access my free Weekly Bold Move.


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