Today’s psychologists think Carl Jung’s early work in personality preferences is quackery. And, they dismiss the work of Myers and Briggs as amateurish and unscientific. With the additional cautions raised by the Myers-Briggs Foundation, the heavy reliance on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®) instrument for qualifying, hiring, assigning, and assessing employees prompts a further look. RepIGNITE continues to search out approaches that are more productive. This time the focus is on what Factor-C insights mean to your sales success.

The c-factor is a mouthful.

According to MIT’s Center for Collective Intelligence, “Psychologists have repeatedly shown that a single statistical factor – often called ‘general intelligence’ – emerges from the correlations among people’s performance on a wide variety of cognitive tasks. But, no one had systematically examined whether a similar kind of ‘collective intelligence’ exists for groups of people. [Converging] evidence of a general collective intelligence factor . . . explains a group’s performance on a wide variety of tasks. This ‘c factor’ is not strongly correlated with the average or maximum individual intelligence of group members, but it is correlated with the average social sensitivity of group members, the equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking, and the proportion of females in the group. [Continuing work investigates] the factors that affect the collective intelligence of a group, such as its size, the electronic collaboration tools it uses, and the gender mix of its members.”

Wow! Okay, to break it down, research indicates that collectives – teams, departments, groups – show a characteristic level of collective intelligence distinct from that of the individual members. If you can better understand that collective factor, you might find a means to predict future group behavior and create robust tools to study and intervene to improve that performance.

And, the most fascinating outcome of the CCI research by Thomas Malone and Anita Williams suggests that “the higher the proportion of women on a team, the more likely it is to exhibit collective intelligence (and thus achieve its goals).”

How does the c-factor work?

When your success depends on team outcomes, you need some way to figure out the quality and performance capability of teams. At CCI, researchers targeted a collective IQ called “c-factor” (or Factor-C). According to Cass R Sunstein and Reid Hastie:

  1. A social perception test, created to test for autism, recorded participants’ ability to judge the emotion of another based on a photo of the eyes. It appears that the higher the test performance, the higher the team’s performance.
  2. The tendency of individuals to dominate a discussion, in brainstorming for example, had a negative impact on team performance. This increases the value of consensus-building and constructive listening.
  3. The number of women on the team positively predicted performance. Their higher scores in social perception linked to their social intelligence, the ability to figure out that others are thinking from subtle displays of body language, facial expression, and eye movement.

Image courtesy of Anita Woolley and Thomas W. Malone, Defend Your Research: What Makes a Team Smarter? More Women

If this kind of social perception can be learned or directed, you can improve your sales team performance.

What Factor-C insights mean to your sales success

Sunstein and Hastie use pro-basketball as a model to explain the Factor-C at work. A successful team displays that social connection as players watch each other for the subtlest signals. You might find this, too, in the improvisation among the players in a jazz quartet or the synchronicity among members of an orchestra. Great theater depends on actors “reading” each other, and so on.

Recruiting sales candidates for their social skills and passion for teamwork helps you field the sales team that performs. “It is clear that wise groups should devote real attention to social abilities, including the capacity both to participate and to listen, in selecting personnel and in devising social norms for team performance. A strong preference to work on teams, especially when linked to social skills, is a good predictor – as is the ability to read other people’s emotional states” (2014 HBR.org).

At this time, few tools exist to measure the potential for collective intelligence performance because the research is so young:

  • Catalyst.com has launched a “call for collaboration” inviting volunteers to contribute data, research, and experience.
  • CCI has published an online handbook on the topic, research, and resources.
  • Psychology Today invites contributors to help create an IQ test of collective intelligence.

So, what value do Factor-C insights mean to your sales success? It lies in the potential to dissect problems, collaborate on solutions, and deliver fixes. The research indicates that success depends on the natural human behavior – as it evolves in a well-chosen group. It suggests several key positive correlations between success and the team members’ social perceptivity, their proven ability to participate equally, and the values added by female participants. Any measures that offer some predictive analytic are important to your team’s sales success.

Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net