And the Office Games Begin

Susan Hall

In a BNET piece, "Why Smart People Make Lousy Teams," writer Kimberly Weisul points to research from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon and Union College that found that raw intelligence isn't necessarily conducive to effectively functioning groups. As if we didn't learn that in high school.


She lists three findings:

  • Individual smarts doesn't affect [group] performance. If your team is struggling, adding more brainiacs won't necessarily help.
  • EQ-emotional intelligence-is more important than IQ. We've heard that people skills increasingly are the differentiator in executive-level jobs, but it makes sense that the ability to work in groups at any level isn't necessarily a function of intelligence.
  • A "strong" personality hurts performance. There's a lively discussion in the comments about the definition of a "strong personality" and whether this is true. I agree that teams require firm direction from the team leader and management. A "strong" personality could be a bully or someone who's organized and can get things done.


Slide Show

10 Reasons Why You Should Avoid Office Politics

Learn why you're far better off avoiding office politics at all costs.

Emotional intelligence (EI) has become a trendy consideration in hiring in the past few years-so much so that now there's even testing tools to measure it in candidates. This article at Achieving Business Excellence on staying out of legal trouble with these tests, defines EI this way:

Important aspects of EI are self awareness, the ability to communicate and influence, and commitment and integrity. Executives with high levels of emotional intelligence promote teamwork and facilitate leadership because they're aware of how their actions affect co-workers and customers.

There have been a lot of claims about EI and its ever-expanding list of traits, but researchers at Virginia Commonwealth and other Virginia universities studied all published research on the topic and last fall published findings citing a link between emotional intelligence and better job performance.


In what has to be far more interesting research, however, professors at Cambridge and Texas A&M (how did they ever hook up?), according to this Management Today article:

... argue convincingly that there may be a dark side to emotional intelligence, one that can be used to manipulate, spin, intimidate and generally bend others to one's will.
"We wanted to ask, how would humans apply these (EI) skills in competitive, rather than co-operative environments," says co-author Dr. Jochen Menges, lecturer in human resources and organizations at Cambridge's Judge Business School. "What if people want to get ahead rather than get along?"

The article says their research is still in its infancy, but it quotes Nicola Horlick, chief executive of Bramdean Asset Management, saying:

There's no doubt that there are many who manipulate their way to the top. It's human nature-an extension of office politics. And there are some organizations where that behavior really is the modus operandi.

Aren't there already some reality TV shows about that?

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