Building Better Teams Through Multiple Intellects

Many in the education field have little difficulty accepting and implementing ideas from Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intellects as explained in his books, Frames of the Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences and Intelligence Reframes: Multiple Intelligences for the 21st Century. The business community, however, may not be so familiar with the concept or how to apply it to the work environment.

Joel Kurtzman interviewed Gardner for Strategy+Business, an online business publication, and talked about his theory’s business application. Gardner said that understanding that we have many ways to be intelligent and using that information can help organizations build better teams, organize more efficiently, institute better training for leaders, aid in problem solving and ensure that people are paired with the right task. [i] He goes on to say that he changed how he organized his teams by incorporating people who weren’t like him – creating a more diverse unit which allows the team to take advantage of the way people with different intellects see things. This strategy can work well in any organization, including school and business.

Examine the way you organize things and take note if most of your team seems to think and perform like you do. You may overlook solutions and approaches by focusing too much of your team’s abilities in the same venue. If you approach things very logically and systematically, someone who can imagine new strategies may open doors you didn’t even know existed. Another team member who explores the environment around the problem or who can empathize with those you are trying to serve may snag different concepts and concerns that appeal to a different audience.

Each of the intellects can provide a part of the puzzle that leads your team to the best possible solution for the challenge facing you. Consider how this type of strategy can increase your business by opening new markets and making your team more efficient and balanced. It could make the difference between your business shooting for the stars or bouncing along just above the ground.

[i] Joel Kurtzman, “An Interview with Howard Gardner,” Strategy+Business, Jan. 1, 1999, 14(1). Available online from

Why Can We Just Get Along?

Every family can experience challenges when it comes to living in harmony. No two people think exactly alike or react the same, so some conflict is almost inevitable.

Understanding how every member of the relationship thinks and their basic personality can help keep the waters running smoother. For instance, if you have a strong-willed child, you can give that child age-appropriate things to do where that child is in charge, such as: helping collect dirty laundry, setting the table, putting toys away, writing the shopping list while you inventory the pantry or walking or feeding the dog. I will admit, that the younger the child, the easier it is to get enthusiastic help, but if you build a pattern of responsibility, it does get easier.

One of the things I enjoy doing is explaining personality styles to parents or couples. Once they understand what makes a person tick and how to talk to one another, conflict can become less frequent if both are willing to make a compromise. If she can balance a checkbook and stick to a budget, it is often more advantageous to let her track finances and get the bills paid. If he is an idealist, her more laid back style could bug him until he sees that she can balance his need for perfection in some areas. Someone who loves to have fun and make a game of things can sometimes gain cooperation for tasks because he can find ways to make it enjoyable.

One key to this balancing act is appreciating the differences in one another. If he sees that her attention to detail can help him gain points with his boss when he runs proposals by her first, he view her need for order as less burdensome. If she sees his take-charge attitude as his need to provide for his family, she may be more inclined to compromise and follow his lead, as long as he listens to her concerns. She can praise his drive to succeed at work and help him stay aware of family matters that also need his attention so he keeps a better work/home balance. They form a partnership where they take advantage of each other’s strengths and balance weaknesses.

When parents can do this, they can teach their children to do the same as they lead by example and praise each child individually for that child’s achievements. When the children don’t have to compete for praise and attention and routinely hear sincerely compliments that value each family member, they are more likely to praise and affirm their siblings.

It takes time and effort to do this, but it is well worth the time spent and can help minimize the unpleasantness that comes with feeling unappreciated. Give it a try!!