Four recurrent questions have been coming to my mind in the past few months.
1. How can incompetent, often arrogant people make it systematically to the top? (Hello Mr Trump and corrupted processes across businesses and politics)
2. How can we be fooled by fake confidence over competence? (Yes, you, highly incompetent, arrogant guy in a suit in that meeting)
3. How can we be less biased when hiring or letting people into our professional and personal networks? (How hard it should really be to scan through CVs when you thrive to be unbiased and hire the right fit?)
4. How can we best define intelligence? (How can we move away from the one fits all approach that plagues our schools and our workplaces?)
Truth be told all questions above have a lot to do with my daily life so how do we go about making a change and having an impact?
1,2,3 - How about we make artificial intelligence tests compulsory for some. As it is increasingly employed in many businesses and sectors and will become soon extensively used by HR and hiring managers, why can we not make AI compulsory for those aspiring to top jobs that have an impact on human lives, on our planet or on our money, to have a basic but thorough, impartial, machine-unbiased assessment on whether they are mentally stable and fit for the actual job? A sort of AI ID card on basic human competence and emotional intelligence. This would happily erase the chances of all the loud incompetent people across businesses we see getting hired and promoted year on year. This would decrease the chances of some political leaders even starting their careers leave alone being elected presidents.
Maybe such tests could be a suggestion also for those who go to vote without knowing what their vote will mean, nor understanding the basis of the pros and cons.
Maybe we could avoid another financial crisis. Or global warming. Or many innocent human lives.
4 – I am raising two little children, feeding their little bodies and their little brains and wondering what it is that we are leaving behind. I am naturally very interested in what the future holds for the future of education and the future of the workplace when it comes to understanding intelligence.
We all know by now that IQ tests and their scores are outdated and only give a rough indication of one way of measuring one type of intelligence. We all know and have heard across high level platforms and in depth research for many years that real leaders are those who have great emotional intelligence and understand the value in the people around them. So why workplaces keep hiring, rewarding and retaining ancient dinosaurs and their poster children with often one type only of cold unemotional intelligence? Why are there still so few exceptions and very few enlightened leaders?
Accordingly to the World Economic Forum by 2020, emotional intelligence will be the 6th most sought-after skill, ahead of decision making and negotiation.
Back at school in my day there was one unspoken rule. I attended a scientific high school/gymnasium, where the most important subjects were the main language/culture/literature (Italian), English and mathematics. Out of 10 subjects and as many professors, those teaching these three were highly regarded, the other 7 were lucky to be considered 'real' professors, being them music, gymnastics, arts, phylosophy or history experts they simply did not get the same credit. Students who scored high in Italian, English and Maths were considered smart and good and would go on to conquer the world. Those who did not were considered less worthy. By far. It was not phrased that way but it was absolutely meant that way. What a waste of talents in so many ways.
I was decent in maths, I was good in all subjects. Because I studied. But I was never incentivized to follow my passions by my professors (thankfully I was at home by my forward looking parents).
We were instead systematically threatened by my maths professor whom we were exposed to for a minimum of 6 hours a week for 10 months a year for 5 years, if we could not get analysis right and the study of spacial functions right during each monthly test, we would never achieve anything in life she said. EVER.
Then I went to university, hoping to find more enlightened professors. But no, back in 2003 one size (of intelligence) must fit all and if not bad luck, seemed to be the mantra. I did fit, but it was a tight skin and it took some work to nourish my other natural inclinations.
Well, here I stand and I salute you nearly 15 years later, dear high school and university professors across Europe.
So looking back on when I signed the last page of my master thesis, there is one thing I wish I had known: intelligence takes many different forms and all need to be nurtured in the same way as they are all equally important.
· Spatial: Visualizing the world in 3D
· Naturalist: Understanding living things and reading nature
· Musical: Discerning sounds, their pitch, tone, rhythm and timbre
· Logical-Mathematical: Quantifying things, making hypotheses and proving them
· Existential: Tackling the questions of why we live and why we die
· Interpersonal: Sensing people's feelings and motives
· Bodily-Kinesthetic: Coordinating your mind with your body
· Linguistic: Finding the right words to express what you mean
· Intra-personal: Understanding yourself, what you feel and what you want
There are multiple benefits to embracing your own type or types of intelligence. For starters, you can stop comparing yourself to others, and find your best work environment. You're also more aware of what skills you may need to develop and ultimately of what makes you happy.
Which one(s) can you count yours?