How to Build Better Teams Using Multiple Intelligence Theory

black white brain

Let’s say a doctor discovers a breakthrough cure for cancer. He tests his theory, and it works. Others start asking him how he did it.  But he struggles to communicate well and can’t seem to clearly explain the steps.  In theory, his cure for cancer depends on his ability to verbalize it to someone else.  This doctor would have benefited greatly from Multiple Intelligence Theory in building a team to support his efforts.

Our world relies on multiple intelligences.  We need people who are mathematical, verbal, interpersonal, and spatial.  We are interdependent beings with unique skills and talents that complement one other.

When developing teams, how many managers consider each member’s individual strengths?  For example, do managers make sure there is a good communicator on the team along with a logical thinker? 

The theory of multiple intelligences can help us understand our own strengths as well as the intellectual abilities of others to form the best possible teams.

Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence

In 1983, Psychologist Howard Gardner introduced the theory of multiple intelligences in his book, Frames of Mind.  He identified the following types of intelligences:

  • Verbal-Linguistic- strength in mastering the use of words, both verbal and written
  • Logical/ Mathematical- ability to solve math and logic problems easily
  • Visual/Spatial- visual ability for objects like images, maps, charts, videos
  • Bodily/Kinesthetic- strength with hand/eye coordination and agility
  • Musical- ability to think in rhythms, sounds, patterns
  • Interpersonal- ability to evaluate emotions, motivations, and public dealings
  • Intrapersonal- ability to be introspective, evaluate relationships, and be philosophical
  • Naturalist- ability to understand and be in-tune with nature

Of these intelligences, our traditional educational system places the most value on verbal and mathematical.  We need to think only back to the SAT test to confirm this.  Placing high value on these two intelligences may work in some business environments like those that are more highly structured but may not be aligned with more creative environments. 

Consider Intelligence Types to Meet Team Goals

Managers should consider multiple intelligences when building teams.  “All eight intelligence profiles are necessary in a multidisciplinary work team that complements each other. To solve any type of need that arises in a project, people with creative vision, problem-solving strategy, critical thinking, interpersonal, communication or linguistic skills are needed” (

Teams should form based on the desired outcomes of a project and the skills needed to meet goals.  For instance, if the goal is customer service based, your team may need members who are interpersonal and verbal. 

Building a more diverse mix of strengths can help those whose strengths may not be typically valued rise to the surface.  It can also be humbling to see how underdeveloped our own intelligences are in certain areas when we see these more highly developed in someone else. 

Hire Strategically to Build Better Teams

When hiring, it pays to think about which intelligence type suits the job description.  Many hiring managers value well-rounded employees who are strong in many intelligence areas and avoid candidates who may have a super-skill in just one area.  But if a job description calls for one highly developed intelligence, it is actually a great fit to go with that more unique candidate (Yakuel, Forbes). Trusting your team is critical in fostering a high-performing group.

When choosing your own career or next move, consider one that suits your natural way of thinking.  If you are currently struggling to acclimate to your job, you may need to approach your employer about moving to a different area. “Sometimes, the organization needs to be creative by reallocating employees in order not to lose talented people. If an employee has an outstanding logical-mathematical intelligence but his traction with customers is wanting, moving him to a non-customer-facing department might do the trick,” says Pini Yakuel of Forbes.

Understanding and knowing your own aptitudes can help you choose a career direction. Artemis Consultants is there to help match your natural intelligence gifts to the right position.

Written exclusively for Artemis Consultants by Content Writer Mellody Melville

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