Bill Taylor, author of Practically Radical and co-founder of Fast Company, talks about “humbition”; a winning combination of ambition and intellectual humilty.
The term originated in an IBM study that sought to identify the traits of their most high-impact employees. Turns out that ambition alone is mediocre; ambition plus intellectual humility is the winning combination. Here’s what Bill had to say. It’s about continuous learning and leadership:
“IBM did a study a few years ago trying to address the simple question of what distinguishes the technologists, engineers, and leaders at IBM who have had a really huge impact on the company from other engineers and technologists, who, while excelling, haven’t had that same kind of impact.
They were looking for that type of mindset, work ethic, and approach to life that distinguished those who are really successful and have an impact from those who are less so. The word they tumbled to was humbition. Now what the heck is humbition?
Humbition is made up partly of ambition: being really fired up, energized, and evaluating yourself highly in terms of the impact you might be able to have on your team, in your organization, on the world around you. And then, humbition is also having a genuine sense of intellectual humility.
For me this is the big mindset. They understood that if you want to have an impact today, your job is no longer to be the smartest person in the room, and your job is not to solve every problem and identify every opportunity. Your job is to ask yourself,What does it mean to be a leader? What does it mean to be an entrepreneur? What does it mean to be an impact player in a world where nobody alone is as smart as everybody together?
The people who keep leading and learning are the ones who save themselves. They are not the people who say, ‘Oh, I’ve got this great idea. What’s my top-down style of communication to move it out?’ They say to themselves, ‘I need a great idea. What is my architecture of participation?’ – I took that phrase from the world of software – ‘So that I, on an ongoing basis, can tap into the hidden collective genius of my colleagues and all the customers and business partners who surround me? Many people are interested in what I’m doing and would love to share a little bit of their brain power, if only I would make it easy for them to do it.’ This is the kind of “group genius” that I speak of. Nobody alone is as smart as everyone together.”
Think of the successful people you know. Are they humbitious? Are you humbitious? How could you try to become more humbitious. I would love to hear your thoughts below.