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Will Humility Be the Key to Success in the Smart Machine Age?
Thursday, November 16, 2017 6:40 AM

Doug Foister, Vice President of Research, Cornerstone Credit Union League

Only those assuming the proverbial ostrich position can deny that massive disruption is upon us and that its implications will be staggering. Two authors from the Darden Graduate School of Business, Ed Hess and Katherine Ludwig, have written on how the upcoming technology tsunami will change the concept of work in our society, including how "smart" and "successful" are defined. As the authors put it, the day of the aggressive, smartest person in the room, steamroller personality is over… in the new automated age, humility will be the golden ticket to job success.

At first, their thesis seemed counterintuitive. But then, as I read more, I came to believe their position definitely has merits worth considering. After all, we are all profoundly affected by our work, so the more we consider what will be required in the workplace of the future, whether from the perspective of an employee or an employer, the better.

Hess and Ludwig assert that with machines taking over more jobs, many of the jobs that remain will require employees who not only possess excellent critical, innovative, and creative thinking skills, but also those who can put aside their egos and emotionally engage with customers, patients, and clients. The ability to collaborate and empathize will be valued, they say, and humility will be key. They remind us that humility is not weakness or blind submissiveness. Rather, they define it as “having an accurate view of one’s abilities and achievements; being able to acknowledge one’s mistakes, imperfections, gaps in knowledge and limitations; being open to new ideas, contradictory information, and advice; and keeping one’s abilities and accomplishments in perspective…”

Whether or not these projections come to pass about the future of work in the Smart Machine Age, the value of humility clearly remains something worth pondering.