3 leadership ideas to engage scientific minds

Scientists can be a demanding audience when it comes to leadership development. Analytical thinkers often challenge ideas that others might be happy to take on trust, so trainers must be ready to back their thinking with rigorous evidence.

We use these three powerful and evidence-backed concepts in the training room to resonate with scientific groups and establish the validity of our tools and models. We've included links to an illustrative studies for those who want to find out more.

1. Collective intelligence

This powerful concept refers to the group equivalent of IQ. Groups with high CI overachieve in a range of cognitive tasks, from creativity and problem-solving to complex crisis management scenarios. Studies have shown that CI is an emergent property of groups - it is not just the sum of the individual abilities of the team’s members, but emerges from the ways they interact. Leaders can see their role as orchestrators of CI, optimising team culture and process to maximise intellectual performance.

Key study: Evidence for Collective Intelligence

2. Skills congruence

One of the most important ways of improving team CI is to ensure members collaborate efficiently. For leaders, this means developing an understanding of the individual talents and abilities in their group, and then organising tasks in ways that play to these strengths effectively. Teams that achieve this goal have what we call high skills congruence -task-oriented harmony - and outperform others across a range of performance metrics.

Key study: Quantifying the Factors Linked to Collective Intelligence

3. Social perceptiveness

Boosting CI isn’t just about arranging work efficiently. It’s also about the quality of the interactions that take place within the group. A key factor here is social perceptiveness, an aspect of emotional intelligence linked to the capacity to read and respond to the emotional states of other people during conversations. This is a skill that can be developed, but is often overlooked in research contexts. Leaders should consider how they role model and develop social perceptiveness in their teams.

Key study: How Social Skills Improve Team Performance

To see how a training course can be built around these and other evidence-based concepts, please visit our Leading scientific teams course page.