The #1 Skill for the Best Remote Teams in 2020 (Spoiler: It’s not EQ)

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) has been all the rage in the business world over the past few years. There are coaches and consultants building their practices on training teams and leaders to grow the critical skill set. I’ve even incorporated EQ appraisals into my own freelance offerings. There’s no doubt that EQ is a key skill for high performers and especially remote workers. But there’s a new kid on the block…

I recently read Shane Snow’s fascinating 2018 Best Seller, Dream Teams: Working Together Without Falling Apart, and he introduced a concept that was totally new to me, but is poised to be the difference maker between teams that are good and those that are great: Intellectual Humility. 

Here’s a super long post about the topic from the author himself. Not clicking through to read it? No problem, here are the highlights:

  • Intellectual Humility (IH) is more than being open-minded. Most people think they’re more open-minded than other people, that is, of course, impossible and falls short of IH.
  • Four hallmarks of IH
    • Respecting other viewpoints
    • Not being intellectually over-confident
    • Separating your ego from your intellect
    • Being willing to revise important viewpoints
  • Being open to new experiences gives more opportunity for the exercise and development of IH, but doesn’t necessarily indicate that you are an intellectually humble individual.
  • IH requires mutual respect for people unlike ourselves, who hold opinions, beliefs, and values unlike our own. 
  • IH is the key element that takes teams from good to great.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

As much as self-awareness and self-management (EQ) are essential to the individual performance of a team member, it is still possible for a team of individual superstars that lacks IH to fall far short of its potential and its competitors.

So, here’s where IH and the remote workplace intersect: According to Snow, one of the best ways to develop a shift towards Intellectual Humility is to be immersed in the culture of people that are unlike yourself. Here are some examples of what that might look like:

  • Travel, travel, travel
  • Live in another country for more than a month
  • Learn a second language
  • Eat authentic local foods when in new places
  • Listen to the personal stories of other people from differing cultures and backgrounds.

Who doesn’t want to do that, right? By engaging in the above, the barriers of bias can be readily broken down and mutual respect and appreciation for your team members will grow. Developing IH within your team is an investment that could pay huge dividends. BUT, how do you that, for yourself, for your team, or for your employees when everyone is working a full-time job in downtown (insert name of sexy tech-friendly city)?

You guessed it. Remote and flexible working arrangements that allow for extensive travel-working experiences (or even incentivize them) put remote companies at the forefront of developing an IH mindset. Not only are remote teams more likely to be made of culturally diverse people, but they also afford team members the opportunities to engage in all of the activities that are critical in developing IH.

Get in touch to learn more about how you can put your team in a position to outperform the competition with flexible and remote arrangements in your company. This could be the most important decision you make for your business, in my (intellectually) humble opinion 😉