Want to Increase Organizational Intelligence? Hire & Promote Women

Are you preoccupied with meeting performance goals and increasing market share through your people? For the most part, people’s intelligence remains partially tapped because managers lack understanding of how to engage the organization’s whole brain and maximize their potential. This post will explore ways to increase organizational intelligence and will provide strategies that can immediately yield incremental results.

Why Understand Organizational Intelligence?

Organizational intelligence (OI) “refers to the organization’s ability to generate knowledge to adapt itself to its environment and achieve business results” William Hallal. We are in the knowledge and information eras where learning to adapt to a fast-changing environment is critical for survival. Thus, focusing on increasing organizational intelligence makes sense in the current climate. How do you increase your Organization’s IQ?

In short, the key lies in your ability to establish a psychologically safe learning climate where all employees can trust that they can take a calculated risk, learn, fail fast and speak up. In addition, organizational intelligence can be increased by hiring women. Research conducted by Anita Woolley at Carnegie Mellon found that group’s collective intelligence is increased when you have women in the group. Women are a key to any group because of their ability to collaborate and connect at a deeper level with others. The research suggests that the collective intelligence of a group will predict a team’s performance and overrides the level of intelligence of the smartest person in the group. Studies have shown that having 30% of women in positions of leadership increases net profits by 6%. Are you losing money because your board of directors or portfolio of start-ups is male dominated?

Brain research has shown that there are over 100 brain-specific gender differences between men and women. This includes women having nearly ten times more white matter than men (making women more swift at transitioning between random tasks than men) to having a bigger hippocampus (the human memory center) and verbal processing centers on both sides of the brain. This helps women better absorb sensory information than men and communicate in more detail their experiences. In a nutshell: women are wired to collaborate and leverage their neural wiring by demonstrating empathy and valuing others’ contributions. So if you believe you are the smartest person in the room, know that you can build a team that even outsmarts you when you hire more women and allow them to lead.

We can hear the cynics, not all women are collaborative.

It’s true if you set women in an environment where they have to compete and get rewarded for male behavior instead of their natural collaborative behavior, then you will produce highly aggressive women. It comes down to nature vs. nurture. The gene that gets expressed is correlated to the environment in which you operate. There are plenty of organizations where the loudest, more aggressive male or female wins the conversation and takes power. Our research on psychological safety has shown that women in male-dominated environments experience lower levels of safety. If you want to change this, then examine the micro-behaviors that are rewarded in your organization. Who gets the promotion? What behaviors make them worthy of promotion? How are subordinates treated? Don’t’ focus only on the performance numbers.

If you are ahead of the curve and are increasingly hiring women don’t stop there. Create an inclusive environment where women feel respected and empower to deliver the best results. We have heard women complained about attending too many board meetings where male colleagues made comments about other women’s body parts making them feel extremely uncomfortable and unwelcome.

Where can you start? 

· At on-boarding: ask women what does an inclusive workplace for women looks like? And what is missing in your organization at the time? What type of behaviors makes women feel that they belong? What are the characteristics of the environments where they thrive?

· Leadership: set the example and do not engage in sexist comments or allow them to happen in the presence of women.

· Analytics: look at your promotion data, are women getting promoted? Are you allowing women to work part-time to fulfill their family obligations? Where in the pipeline are you seeing a plateau? Know that human bias will always be there but you can mitigate it by changing the environment.

The goal is never to have a disproportional number of men and women. Instead, we advocate for tapping into a diverse set of brains and experiences that can level up your organization’s intelligence and performance.

How are you driving gender diversity to increase your company’s collective intelligence? Share your insights in the comments.

Neural Shifts
administrator
VENUS REKOW is a behavioral architect, researcher and leadership facilitator whose passion lies on helping leaders drive behavior change by translating scientific insights into actionable best practices. She conducts research on psychological safety and leadership practices to help her clients strengthen their organizational cultures. As the founder of Neural Shifts, she uses her behavioral analytical skills to get to the root of behavior and facilitate meaningful and lasting change. She holds a B.S. in psychology from Boise State University; a M.S. in Organizational Development form Seattle University; a M.S. in Neuroscience from University of Oberta, Spain; and a Certified executive coach form the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching and the Neuroleadership Institute.
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