Looking to Create High-Performance Teams? Add Women

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Want to have more productive and high-performance teams in your workplace? Research shows that the answer may be simple: add more women.

Researchers at Harvard, MIT, and Carnegie Mellon have been studying teams for years – trying to determine what makes them functional, and what is different about high-performing teams. At first, they thought it might be individual intelligence, so they tested the individual IQ and tried to match it with collective group intelligence. But that wasn’t it.

Instead, groups with three defining characteristics were the ones that stood out as most exceptional: those where all group members contributed equally instead of having a few dominant members, those with members who displayed a high level of emotional intelligence, and those with more women. Not gender diversity – more women.

The most important determinant in all of this was the social sensitivity of the group – how well people could perceive and react to the emotions of the people in the group, listening and collaborating using both the spoken and unspoken cues of their teammates. Women, on average, tend to be better at this than men, which is part of the reason why women help groups succeed. It’s important to clarify here: we aren’t talking about empathy or compassion. We are talking about the skills involved in deep listening and collaboration with others.

These collaboration skills went beyond in-person interactions to include online forums– demonstrating the importance of good communication, equal participation and emotion-reading skills even in written communication methods.

Since teams with more women tend to be more successful, that says a lot about why hiring and retaining female employees is so important. You want to succeed in the world of business? Where Boards of Directors, management suites, and task forces make up the teams that determine a company’s success? Make sure to bring women on board.

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