The Greater Fool

Clever individuals don't make the group smarter

Their analysis, published on 30 September in Science, found several characteristics linked to group performance -- and none involved individual intelligence. What mattered instead was the social sensitivity of individual members, the proportion of women (who tend to be more sensitive) in each group, and a balanced participation of conversation.

Gender and social sensitivity are linked, said Woolley, making emotional intelligence and conversation balance the most important factors in group performance. Not only was individual intelligence irrelevant, but group cohesion mattered little. Neither did motivation or happiness -- a finding that most workers would find disconcerting.

I suspect being able to mine and measure that "conversation balance" will be the true value of leadership. I work in an industry dominated by males (Software Engineering) and find the teamwork quality abysmal more often than not. What is the best way to build social sensitivity within a team? Can it be trained effectively?

Empirically, it makes a lot of sense. The better the ability of a team to coax the best ideas out of its constituents, particularly those quiet but brilliant ones, the better it will perform. Their other conclusion also makes a lot of empirical sense; that individual intelligence matters little in the context of a team. Often that individual brainpower comes at the cost of teamwork-destructive egos.