Why are some groups smarter than others?
Spoiler alert: It’s women. Women make the difference.
A team of scientists from MIT, Carnegie Mellon and Union College did research that suggests that just as some individuals are smarter than others, so too some groups are smarter than others.
They practice some sort of collective intelligence, something they call “the C Factor.”
“This C Factor is not strongly correlated with the average maximum individual intelligence of group members but is correlated with the average social sensitivity of group members, the equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking, and the proportion of females in the group.”
Neither the average intelligence of the group, nor the smartest person in the group had much effect on the “C Factor,” the collective intelligence of that group.
The smartest people in the room are not necessarily the key to building smart groups.
So what is “social sensitivity”?
It is the skill of reading the non-verbal cues we all display, whether consciously or not. And since women score higher on this measure of emotional intelligence, teams with more women tended to be better teams in terms of collective intelligence.
“Social sensitivity is a kind of literacy and it turns out that women are naturally more fluent in the language of tone and faces than the other half of their species.”
If the problem you face can be solved by one really smart person (think calculus), then being the smartest math person in the room is a good thing.
But if the issue you’re grappling with requires deep collaboration, EQ outweighs IQ every time.
Emotionally sensitive people are gifted at reading between the lines and for group interaction, that’s really valuable.
Hope this helps, because we can use all the collective intelligence we can produce.