What makes one team more successful than another?

A team is not limited to a group of athletes.

Teams are created to do all sorts of everyday tasks, in almost every career field.

A team of chefs or cooks may be assembled to operate a restaurant. A corporation may assemble a team of executives to handle a major project. Or a team of volunteers may work together to organize a charity event.

Regardless of the goal being aimed for, the success of a team cannot happen just by getting smart individuals together. You need to build a smart team, in order to be more successful the the average team out there.

So what makes one team smarter and more successful? Anita Williams Woolley, from Carnegie Mellon University, has some answers. Read on, to find out.


Communication is a huge ingredient in any team. Smooth operations happen with clear and distributed communication.

Each member of the team needs to have a role and be involved, as far as communicating is concerned. Studies show that a team is much less effective, when team conversations/communications are dominated by one or two members.

There is nothing wrong with having a leader or dominant people in a team. However, a people need to recognize when they need to be listening to other members. Everyone needs to be involved and giving their full attention, as well as making a contribution vocally.

This applies to both physical and virtual communication.


Although a team leader may be necessary, studies have shown that a team accomplishes more without having one or two stand out superstars. Collective intelligence always produces more than individual intelligence.

A single person trying to accomplish more than their share or stepping out of their role can produce a negative effect throughout the rest of the team. When everyone is involved and the team is working together, they are more likely to accomplish more with less time and effort.


Gender diversity is important. Teams that have at least 50% women perform better.

One reason for this, is that women have more social perceptiveness.


Hundreds of teams that were tested, demonstrated more intelligence as a group when the team was more socially perceptive.

These teams show the ability to pick up on non-verbal communicating such as facial expressions and body posture.

The teams that are able to read each other’s minds through their eyes, demonstrated more collective intelligence and accomplished more.


It is also needed to note that as a whole, the collective intelligence of any given team is always driven by its lowest scoring member.

While a single person cannot make an entire team by themselves, any individual does have the ability of slowing a team down.

So individuals who may drag the team down, such as overly negative or dominant people, should be avoided. If such people must be included in the team, then they should be actively managed.


Watch this video for more insights on the topic:

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