Think you’re smart? Think again

Once upon a time, being smart meant getting the best grades.

Not anymore.

In an age when machines get higher scores and make fewer mistakes than we can ever hope to, we need to redefine what being “smart” means.

“The new ‘smart’ will be determined not by what or how you know but by the quality of your thinking, listening, relating, collaborating, and learning,” Ed Hess writes for Harvard Business Review. “Quantity is replaced by quality. … A.I. will be a far more formidable competitor than any human. We will be in a frantic race to stay relevant. That will require us to take our cognitive and emotional skills to a much higher level.”

In other words, being smart in the age of automation won’t be a function of what we know. It’ll be a function of who we know. Our ability to be human — to connect and collaborate, to empathize, to think strategically and anticipate future trends — will set us apart from our competition going forward.

Those emotional skills go beyond our current workforces. They’re a key ingredient in our hiring processes, too — which makes them a key ingredient in the future of our organizations.

“Employees with a high emotional quotient can more efficiently deal with workplace changes, challenging situations, and difficult colleagues – and they make great leaders,” Deanna Arteaga writes in AccountingWEB.

“Considering emotional intelligence in the recruitment process will pay off in the long run for accounting firms,” Brandi Britton, district president of OfficeTeam, told Arteaga. “Someone’s emotional intelligence ties into their fit with the corporate culture, which is of utmost significance, and E.I. is also essential when considering future leadership roles.”

Whether we’re racing against the machines or our competition, our competitive advantage going forward will be our ability to be more human — more empathetic, more emotional, more strategic.

We can’t out-know the machines. But we can out-think them.

Doing so, in fact, is our our only hope.


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