Stanley Baldwin, three times Primes Minister of the United Kingdom, once wisely said, “I would rather trust a woman’s instinct than a man’s reason.” In a study conducted by MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, and Union college, researchers sought to establish the age-old principle of “synergy,” that the whole is usually greater than the sum of the parts. However, when trying to dig deeper into what makes this possible, the study came to a surprising conclusion: According to Malone, one of the authors of the study, “having a bunch of smart people in a group doesn’t necessarily make the group smart.” Almost everybody would make the natural and logical assumption that a group of the smartest people in the world would be the smartest team in the world, since their collective intelligence would be even greater than the sum of their individual intelligences. But this might not be the case… unless maybe there were enough women on the team.
By accident, the researchers noticed that teams with more women in the group mostly out-performed teams with fewer women. In essence, the more women the better. Does that mean that women are more intelligent than men? Well, yes and no. It depends on how you define intelligence, actually. Psychologists have made it clear that there is no single type of intelligence; there are numerous manifestations of intelligence, including linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. This is where the secret lies.
Women have generally scored higher on interpersonal intelligence, or as this study describes it, “social sensitivity.” With enough women, teams usually have a better dynamic and stronger group cohesion because females are more inclined to increase the number of conversational turns and perceive the emotions of other members, which in turn creates a more conducive work environment. As teams apply their collective intelligence to a wide range of problems, they normally perform as well as they get along. This theory is not new, but that women strongly influence how well a team gets along is. Theoretically, teams can certainly perform well without women, provided other members display a high quotient of social sensitivity, or interpersonal intelligence. But a natural inclination towards social sensitivity gives most women an indubitable advantage in every team setting, making them a crucial component of any successful team. This is the natural instinct that Stanley Baldwin so trusted, the instinct that was more valuable to him than anyone’s reason or logical intelligence. Could this be one of the reasons why he was so successful?