Team Building & Multiple Intelligences


Team building and multiple intelligences, to many people, have as much similarity as a company dinner and an i.q. test. if you are new to multiple intelligence, the following is a brief explanation:

The Theory of Multiple Intelligences

The Theory of Multiple Intelligences surfaced in 1983 when Dr. Howard Gardner’s renowned book titled, “Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences” was published. Within the next 10 years, educators world wide embraced the theory as a basis to identify talents in the children they work with.

Before that, most people perceived people to be intelligent if they score high in an I.Q. test or other psychometric tests, or are good with logical thinking, mathematical, musical and perhaps, linguistic skills. In his book, which has been described to have caused paradigm shifts, Dr. Gardner identified 7 distinct types of intelligence:

1. Linguistic Intelligence

The talent to learn and use languages, it includes the ability to effectively use language to express oneself rhetorically or poetically, using language as a primary means to remember things. Poets, writers and translators are people with high linguistic intelligence.

2. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

The capacity to analyse problems logically, performs mathematical operations, and scientifically investigate issues. Scientists and mathematicians are some examples of people with high logical-mathematical intelligence.

3. Musical Intelligence

Skills in the performing arts, composition, and appreciation of music. It also includes the capacity to recognize and compose musical pitches, tones, and rhythms. Examples of people with high musical intelligence are: musicians, composers and singers.

4. Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence

The use of one’s whole body or parts of the body to solve problems. It is the ability to use mental abilities to coordinate bodily movements. Some examples of people with high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are carpenters, seamstresses and chefs.

5. Spatial Intelligence

The potential to recognize and use the patterns of wide space and more confined areas. Designers and architects are people with high spatial intelligence.

6. Interpersonal Intelligence

The capacity to understand the intentions, motivations and desires of other people. People with well developed interpersonal intelligence tend to work effectively with others. Some examples are educators, religious and political leaders and salespeople.

7. Intra-personal

The capacity to understand oneself, to appreciate one’s feelings, fears and motivations. People with high intra-personal intelligence have a good idea of what they want to do in life, what they can and cannot do and when to get help. Some examples are high achievers and entrepreneurs.

Brief History of team building

No one can be sure how the term “team building” was formed or when team building first started. The term “team building” is probably the combination of the words “team” and “building”, which means “building a team”. team building could have started as early as the 1930s, when Professor Elton Mayo’s research in The Hawthorne Experiments (1927 to 1932) concluded that the need for recognition, security and sense of belonging has a greater effect on workers’ morale and productivity than other working conditions.

Today, team building can mean different things to different organisations. To some it may simply mean building cohesion among participants, while to others it may mean improving communication and sharing of information between departments.

So How Does Multiple Intelligence Help

team building?

Multiple intelligence has been widely applied to children, particularly in the early detection of talents and gifts in children. So does the theory of multiple intelligence still hold true among adults? Are we able to apply the theory to adults? We began to ask these questions a few years ago when we were helping clients with their team building exercises.

Over the years, we have successfully conducted team building sessions for many corporations, using multiple intelligence in our games, to bring out strengths of different people in different situations, creating an environment to promote mutual respect, understanding and patience with adult participants.

Organisation may define team building in different ways, yet one very basic reason for team building is to get the participants to acknowledge the importance of teamwork and appreciate that people are different.

Dr. Sandy E. Kulkin, founder of Institute for The Motivational Living, Inc, USA (the world’s largest publisher of DISC personality profiling system) once said, “People are different, but they are predictably different”. Dr. Sandy is an expert in human behaviour and he develops courses, trains and certifies professional trainers in behavioural analysis for personal and business settings. He is a firm believer that in order for us to be better able to work with one another, we need to understand why people behave in the way they do and how they look at things differently from us.

Thus in our view, if we can help participants realise that people are different and see these differences as strengths in the other person, we will be able to help them learn to celebrate the differences, thereby creating mutual respect.

Understanding multiple intelligence helps broaden our perspectives of the people around us. In the context of team building, it uncovers the types of intelligence fellow team mates possess, which may never surface within the office setting. This brings about better understanding among the participants.

Exposing participants to multiple intelligence during team building also creates an environment in which participants share their knowledge in the type of intelligence that they possess with their fellow colleagues; it helps participants to be patient with one another as they take turns to learn from one another.

It can also be a humbling experience when we realise that there are other types of intelligence which may not be well developed in us. Introducing multiple intelligence during team building can also help participants become conscious that if we work as a team, we will be well-equipped to tackle different issues and problems as people who are more developed in different areas of intelligence tend to look at different aspects of an issue. These people will also be better at solving different challenges that the team face.

Here are some of Dr. Howard Gardner’s books on Multiple Intelligence:

o The Arts and Human Development (1973)

o Art, Mind, and Brain: A Cognitive Approach to Creativity (1982)

o Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligence (1983)

o The Unschooled Mind: How Children Think and How Schools Should Teach (1991)

o Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice (1993)

o Changing the World: A Framework for the Study of Creativity(1994)

o Intelligence: Multiple Perspectives (1996)

o Intelligence Reframed – Multiple Intelligences for the 21st Century (1999)


Source by Alvin Quah

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