Kimberly Weisul reports on why smart people can make for dumb teams

Why Smart People Make Lousy Teams | BNET

Kimberly Weisul summarizes new research from MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and Union College on how raw smarts affects teams. A sample of nearly 700 were tasked with puzzles, games, negotiations, and analysis, all to be navigated in teams.

Weisul, on the results:

  • Individual smarts doesn’t affect performance. The average intelligence of team members wasn’t related to team performance. So if you’ve got a team that’s struggling, putting a couple of really smart people on it isn’t going to help.
  • EQ–emotional intelligence– is more important than IQ. Good communication and good coordination make teams function well. To get that, you need people who are good at reading and responding to other peoples’ emotions. Teams that included even one person with superior skills in this regard had better performance.
  • A ’strong’ personality hurts performance. Groups where one person dominated the conversation or the decision-making, or where people didn’t do as well taking turns, had worse performance. This correlates well with other research that shows ’stronger’ leaders are often less effective than those who perceive themselves to be less powerful.

As it turns out, smarts are good on teams, but balance is better. This research holds consistent with our real-world experience, that this notion of EQ is often under-rated in team dynamics, and having a focus on balance when constructing a team can pay early dividends in team cohesion and early team wins on large projects.

And yes, as it turns out, the research suggests a strategy for finding this balance. It's the punchline to the story, which we're not going to tell. For that, you'll have to read on!