Winning in an AI World: Do Your Leaders Have What It Takes?

//Winning in an AI World: Do Your Leaders Have What It Takes?

Winning in an AI World: Do Your Leaders Have What It Takes?

AI, Winning, Leaders

Leaders have never had to deal with so much change, at such speed and with so much complexity. That’s the case whether you’re running a fintech app or are creating software to automate intelligent supply chains. The result is leaders in constant overwhelm, struggling to achieve Business As Usual, let alone spearhead transformational innovations and digital transformation which are

Despite all the talk of innovation and disruption that defines the tech community, few leaders are taught how to lead in this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambitious (VUCA) world: even less are able to show their value in a world where an algorithm will soon be able to do almost all analytical tasks: from managing KPI’s to allocating resources most efficiently.

If an AI will soon be able to do the job of most senior managers better than they can – without getting tired, bored, disengaged or replete with cognitive biases – then what do leaders need to do to future-proof their careers as well as their companies?

The fast and furious changes are driving a triple threat – and therefore, a triple opportunity – for every leader:

A Digital World

Firstly, we are fully grappling with the implications of people, places and products being connected in ways never been seen before. Tech like AI, the blockchain, the Internet of Things and 3D printing will impact everything we do in unprecedented and unpredictable ways. For example, an entire house can, right now, be printed in 24 hours.

AI has been proven to be 20% better than a trained lawyer at important analytical yet non-repetitive tasks.

Proteins can be programmed, and genes can be edited.

Every leader needs to stop ignoring or repressing this reality and see how they are going to transform themselves and their organization to cope.

A Disrupted World

Secondly, seismic cultural changes are underway in the as younger people enter both the workforce and consumer marketplace. Born after the fall of the Berlin Wall, they have a generational demand for equality, empowerment and ethics – whether as customers or employees. Industrial Age motivational levers like power, promotion and profit often fall flat on their ears. Many senior leaders I work with struggle to cope with leading these cohorts of people who demand meaning as much as money; and dignity as much as a company car.

A Damaged World

Finally, we are in a reality where virtually every natural, social and psychological system is stressed to the max. This is making it every leaders job to deal with major global risks like climate change, pollution, inequality and clinical depression. These pose an existential threat to us and so every business. There can be no economy without a healthy ecology. It doesn’t matter what the share price is if there are no customers or workers.

This emerging reality demands a new kind of leadership. I call it Transformational Leadership. Every human being was born with the two brain networks they need to master transformational leadership. The first, the Cognitive Control Network, puts us in what I call Control & Protect Mode. It’s linear and logical; we follow best practice using existing rules to improve things and get stuff one. We are analytical and smart but don’t have the creativity we need to adapt as times change.

We all have another brain network, the Default Mode Network, which allows us to enter what I call Create & Connect Mode. Insightful, empathic and imaginative, in this mode we can collaborative to forge next practice, solving new problems with fresh thinking and empathic insight.

Transformational leaders are able to consciously choose the right Mode for the moment. This is more challenging that it looks because our emotions determine the Mode. We can’t be stressed out and overwhelmed and be creative and empathic. Radical behavioural agility grounded in radical emotional stability.

Transformational leaders fearlessly leverage the brilliance of data, lean management and AI to reduce costs and improve results free from human foibles like cognitive biases and fatigue – whilst fully embracing innate and unique human wisdom, creativity and intuition.

With both leadership Modes in a dynamic and actively managed creative tension within, we can forge the future we want to see and not just be whipped around by the tides and cyclones of change. At the centre of transformational leadership is the capacity to metabolize changes in the external world into exponential value by taking them into our wet, hot, messy human hearts and minds.

Given that algorithms will soon be able to do most of our Control & Protect Mode tasks for us better than we can, if we love hanging out in spreadsheets, and even in making code, we are going to be unfit for the future workplace where a machine can do it better. We can use intelligent machines to optimize and scale our customer offer whilst we focus on the things that machines can’t do yet (and I believe never will be able to do): care, coach, create, connect, collaborate.

By Nick Seneca Jankel, who is a transformational leadership expert, professional keynote speaker and author of Become a Transformational Organization: Galvanize agility without losing stability and thrive in the digital, disrupted and damaged world out now, priced £9.99. For more information go to 

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By | 2020-03-04T10:05:07+00:00 March 4th, 2020|Technology|Comments Off on Winning in an AI World: Do Your Leaders Have What It Takes?