Intellectual humility is a key skill for the leaders and workers of tomorrow, says author, journalist and “human explorer” Shane Snow, who was a featured keynote at the 2019 Spring Chief Learning Officer Symposium. And that skill comprises four abilities.

The full transcript of Snow’s interview:

Intellectual humility is, I think, the number one skill that leaders of tomorrow, and all of us as workers, can develop not just for teamwork at work, but in our lives. And it’s important because it’s basically that virtue that sits between being stubborn and never changing your mind, and being gullible and willing to change your mind about anything. Someone who’s able to know when they should change is someone who makes an ideal collaborator.

Really intellectual humility breaks down into four things. One is respecting other viewpoints that are not your own. So, being able to listen and not interrupt, and not judge someone else’s point of view before you hear it.

The second is a lack of intellectual overconfidence. So, being able to know that you aren’t necessarily right about everything, which is hard.

The third is separating your ego from your intellect. So, making things not personal, separating your ideas and things that you believe from your identity, and that’s extremely hard.

But if you can do all of those things, the fourth element of intellectual humility is the ability to revise your viewpoint when it’s hard. So, I say that this is the number one meta skill that we can all develop because it translates across not just your industry or your job, but your whole life as the sort of thing that will elevate the way you work with other people no matter what context.

About the author

Andie Burjek is an associate editor at Human Capital Media. She primarily writes for the wellness and benefits beats for Workforce.

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