Having worked with others in different situations over the years, I would sometimes be surprised by how effective or ineffective a group was. When a group I was part of operated well, it was remarkable what we got done. On the other hand, other groups I experienced were marginally or completely ineffective.

I come across an article on the subject, “Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others,” by Anita Woolley, Thomas W. Malone, and Christopher Chabris. They said the smartest teams were distinguished by three characteristics.

1. “Their members contributed more equally to the team’s discussions, rather than letting one or two people dominate the group.”

An active dialogue with all attending participating makes for the best outcomes, the smartest decisions. Achieving it does involve some chemistry, plus a leader who will help those who need an invitation to speak contribute and those who need help talking less to do so. The team members need to be open to being managed accordingly.

2. “Their members scored higher on a test called ‘Reading the Mind in the Eyes,’ which measures how well people can read complex emotional states from images of faces with only the eyes visible.”

This skill is very important in teamwork. A team member might say something with his/her voice but will be communicating non-verbally what he/she is truly feeling. Group members need to LISTEN to what is being said and what is being expressed in other ways.

3. “Teams with more women out-performed teams with more men. Indeed, it appeared that it was not ‘diversity’ (having equal numbers of men and women), but simply having more women. This last effect, however, was partly explained by the fact that women, on average, were better at ‘mindreading’ than men.”

Think of the average remodeling company. Most of the people in the company are typically male. Often the owner is, too. Maybe the office manager is a female.

The resulting scarcity of intuition, the ability to “feel” what others are feeling, prevents the best outcomes from occurring.

The lack of women distorts the decision-making. That happening appears inevitable, according to the authors’ research.

The highest-performing edition of our company was when we had four females and six males on the team. I wonder what your experience is.

What takeaways could help you make your company better?

  • Have more women on your team.
  • Encourage your team to slow down and listen to what is being said and not said.
  • Make sure that all involved talk, not just you or one or two others.

Give it a try. You might just get more done, have more fun and make more profits.