Okay, so maybe these three things aren’t so secret since they were featured in a popular New York Times article called “Why Some Teams are Smarter Than Others.” Still, I’ve read many similar leadership “lists” and none struck me quite like the research from this article. Perhaps it’s because the results of this study were so simple and straightforward. Three concrete, simple factors that proved to impact team success. Check them out below.
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Although it may be tougher for teams to improve strictly by adding more female members, it does seem possible for teams to concentrate on fostering equal participation and the ability “to consider and keep track of what other people feel, know and believe.” as Prof. Anita Woolley described it in her article.
Based on this research, consider adopting a few new strategies or norms for team meetings:

  • Play “Minute-to-Begin-It”: Start with a team check-in protocol that allows every person one minute to describe their emotional state. Is Jennifer exhausted or elated? Is Jose optimistic or deflated? This type of sharing helps each member learn to read the way their colleagues are feeling and to keep track of this as they interact in the meeting.
  • Bring a Timer: Build in time for equal participation as part of your agenda. Discussing options for the fall fundraiser? Give team members 1-2 minutes to think silently (wait time works for adults, too!) and then leave 1-2 minutes per person for sharing and discussion. Time each person’s contribution to ensure equal attention is paid to each team member and his or her ideas.
  • Make Everyone a Facilitator: Divide up the meeting agenda amongst team members at the start. Who can lead our discussion about student data? Who can lead 10 minutes on teacher recruitment? Giving each person a role in the meeting helps reluctant participants step forward and overeager participants step back.
  • Stoplight Stickies: Give each group member a red, yellow, and green sticky note. At regular intervals, and particularly at decision points, stop for an emotional check in. Ask each participant to put their red sticky in front of them on the table if they have a negative emotional reaction (anger, fear, worry) to the discussion at that point, yellow if they feel neutral, and green if they feel a positive emotional response (excitement, satisfaction, pleasure). A visual reminder will help the “green” participants honor the different perspective of the “red” participants.