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Women key to creative, cooperative teams!

New research from Melbourne Institute of Technology has found that work teams with more women demonstrate greater social sensitivity and in turn collective intelligence, compared to teams containing fewer women.

To arrive at their conclusions, the researchers conducted two studies in which 699 people were placed in groups of two to five and worked on tasks that ranged from visual puzzles to negotiations, brainstorming, games and complex rule-based design assignments. The researchers concluded that a group’s collective intelligence accounted for about 30 to 40 percent of the variation in performance.

Moreover, the researchers found that the performances of groups were not primarily due to the individual abilities of the group members. To determine this, many of the participants also performed similar tasks individually. The average and maximum intelligence of individuals did not significantly predict the performance of their groups.

To record the interactions of people, the researchers equipped study participants with wearable electronic badges — designed by Pentland’s Media Lab group — that provided a complete record of a group’s conversational patterns and revealed a group’s propensity to take turns. “When you do that, it’s possible to get patterns you’ve never seen before,” said Pentland.

Only when analyzing the data did the co-authors suspect that the number of women in a group had significant predictive power. “We didn’t design this study to focus on the gender effect,” Malone said. “That was a surprise to us.” One implication is that the level of collective intelligence should keep rising along with the proportion of women in a group.

See the full article here.

When ‘yes’ means ‘no’

During a recent appointment/life counseling session with my hairdresser we were on the topic of work/life balance (or rather the lack thereof), when he imparted some invaluable advice. He told me that the next time I say “yes” to something, I was to consider what it is I’m saying “no” to. On my drive home I began reflecting on this. During that week, by saying “yes” to additional work on a program, I’d said “no” to time in my garden; by saying “yes” to dinner with work associates, I’d said “no” to dinner with my family. The word “no” often has bad connotations. We associate it with refusal, rejection, dismissal. But really, saying “no” to others can be about saying “yes” to you.


Setting Boundaries

At a recent Learning Circle, some women in the group commented that they were having difficulty establishing personal boundaries in their work relationships. It seems that the border between professional and personal relationships can be a hard one to patrol, particularly when we spend so much of our week at work. The prospect of setting boundaries often comes encumbered with a sense of formality, but essentially it’s about assertive communication and preserving integrity – integrity of work, self and others.

A simple model for setting boundaries:

Make ‘I’ statements –  “I felt frustrated when you spoke over the top of me in our meeting”
Ask for your boundaries to be respected – “You need to let me finish my point before launching into yours.”
Gain commitment –Relationships are more harmonious when people know what to expect and what is expected of them. “In the future we need to communicate in a respectful manner. I expect you to respect my perspective and I will do the same of you”
Follow-through – Actions speak louder than words. It’s important we make a conscious effort to maintain the boundaries we set with our co-workers and model the behaviour we wish to see in others.
Above all else, don’t take boundary breaches personally. We can’t take responsibility for the manner in which other people communicate. In the wise words of Eleanor Roosevelt  – No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.


Learning should be fun!

Having just attended a five day certification for Emotional Intelligence, I was reminded of how painful it can be to sit all day. I wanted to jump up and move, it was excruciating! Sitting is passive, learning is active! I love my training programs to be as interactive as possible. Although this may be challenging for some trainers, it increases the energy levels and enhances the learning experience.

With heart,