Team work is critical; especially with the tasks becoming of multi-disciplinary nature and having ‘sacrosanct’ deadlines to be met. Even, the required aptitude is divided across many individuals and not depending on only one! But, can we assume that if we ‘add more women’ in a team because they are socially intelligent – team’s performance is better!
I find this assumption (the topic of this post) to be true in certain business activities for eg., a BPO (Call-center) or any other extensive ‘human interactions’ driven business activity. Well, I agree that women have more empathy; though it is receding among the new age ‘working’ women and I come across, even men ‘endowed with empathic skills’. Still, the psychologically inherent quality to empathise with others makes women to be better conversationalists and effective in responding to social situations. In fact, I find women endowed with more patience, listening power, while they are in conversation, besides their steadfast approach in solving problems relating to people. Does this mean we should rely ‘only’ on women to develop businesses that have social impact? NO!
Instead, I would encourage focusing on developing ‘social intelligence’ skills in your executives – both men and women – as an ‘pro active’ answer to the ‘increased exposure or awareness’ amongst society members in general. Businesses’ impact on society has started playing a important and ‘definite’ role when it comes to making business decisions. Consumerism movement and Environmental concerns cannot be considered as only stray incidents any longer!
As per wikipedia, “Social intelligence – according to the original definition of Edward Thorndike, is “the ability to understand and manage men and women, boys and girls, to act wisely in human relations”. It is equivalent to interpersonal intelligence, one of the types of intelligences identified in Howard Gardner’s Theory of multiple intelligences, and closely related to theory of mind. Some authors have restricted the definition to deal only with knowledge of social situations, perhaps more properly called social cognition or social marketing intelligence, as it pertains to trending socio-psychological advertising and marketing strategies and tactics”.
Definitely, ‘co-ordination and communication’, has remained an uncontested forte of women for long! In most organisations, in order to make themselves ‘socially sensitive’, the human resources (HR) function is delegated mostly to women. When ‘social sensitivity’ is applied, better negotiating skills are practised; the ‘woman’ HR manager can feel the pulse of the employee’s requirement earlier and faster, leading to recruiting better manpower at a lesser cost.
If you don’t have the power to change the gender makeup of your teams, fear not! Their ‘social IQ’ can still develop and improve through more sensitive means of working together in ‘mixed gender’ teams. Create opportunities for your team members to express their feelings and for others to respond to them. Encourage ‘face-time’ interactions whenever possible since emotions are difficult to read over the phone, and nearly impossible over email. Actually, Social IQ is an acquired skill set and can be developed!!