The future of work: jobs of the heart and the head

I’ve been reading about the future of work lately. We’ve all heard how automation will see more ‘routine’ jobs replaced by machines as well as the rise of more specialised technology roles (like AI and Machine Learning, Big Data Specialists, App Developers and Scientists).

However, it is often overlooked that many of the jobs created in the next 10 years will rely on ‘soft skills’ such as creativity, critical thinking, handling change, leadership and the interpersonal skills of empathy and collaboration. In Australia, Deloitte suggests most of the jobs created between now and 2030 will be ‘knowledge worker’ jobs, including professional jobs in business services, health, education and engineering. And two-thirds of these jobs will be soft-skill intensive.[1] Those jobs that aren’t automated will emphasise ‘the head and the heart’ – humans are apparently still better at being humans. Phew.

How do we create the conditions for collaboration and creativity?

With this premium on soft skills such as creativity and collaboration how do we, as leaders, create the conditions for creativity and innovation to flourish? Well, reducing the predictable anxieties within the team would be a good start. When a group comes together a lot of the anxiety comes from group members’ concerns that their basic needs to both belong and to be valued may be under threat (remember Maslow?). If we all can acknowledge and deal with this anxiety it will greatly enhance the group’s ability to have productive conversations, to ‘discuss the things that matter’, to create and innovate.

The importance of recognising feelings – and the struggle in front of you if you don’t – is neatly summarised in Bob Dick’s FIDO Model[2] which sees dealing with feelings as a necessary pre-condition for effective discussions and decision making…

Feelings Information Decisions Outcomes
which are… which if… if these… are more likely to be achieved
Positive about self, outcome, process and othersSpecific, adequate, accurate, relevantHave the commitment of those affected, specify who will do what by when, and include monitoring and coordination
And not strongly negative about anythingAnd understood and accepted as valid by all
Allow the interchange of…Help those present to make more effective… Then the desired…
Bob Dick’s FIDO Model

Structure, role clarity and participatory processes that acknowledge our emotions and enable everyone to be heard go a long way towards creating the conditions for people to relax, collaborate and generate creative ideas.

P.S. I have a new Group Facilitation Skills Workshop coming up that you may like to check out. It will be available in Brisbane, Darwin, Sydney and Melbourne. More information here –

[1] Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, The path to posterity: Why the future of work is human. 2019. Available online at

[2] Bob Dick, Helping Groups To Be Effective. Interchange, 1991.

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