Humans will lead the partnership with artificial intelligence

What role will leaders be playing in a new world after technological and economic transformation?

Technology has been impacting the shape of our economy for thousands of years.

Leaders have always a) designed or spotted game-changing approaches early, b) leveraged them to their advantage and c) perfected them. For example, the people who first recognised that you could use stones to sharpen a spear head made deadlier weapons to kill their prey than their neighbours. They could protect and feed their communities more effectively than those around them, which improved their chances for surviving and thriving (both physically and economically), especially during times of scarcity.

Similarly, leaders of today and of the future will create, identify, leverage and perfect emergent technologies in society to benefit their communities, whether they be organisations, governments, tribes, families or geographic regions.

What/who would be playing the higher role: technologies (artificial intelligence) or leaders?

To orchestrate social and economic transformation requires high level competencies in both emotional intelligence and in thought. While AI are beginning to be taught basic human emotions, it will take significant time for them to achieve the ability to lead the complex and subtle elements of large-scale change.

Sophisticated leaders leverage tone, pitch and body language to communicate successfully with other people. They exude energy and enthusiasm, which motivates their followers. They can touch people physically, throw a hug or a pat on the back, which research shows creates a sense of connection and warmth with others. At this stage, it is difficult to imagine a time when AI will have these abilities that equal or surpass leaders.

In these ways, humans will lead the partnership with artificial intelligence.

Of course, the extraordinary processing power of AI means that technology will lead in this sphere. As AI becomes increasingly sophisticated in some of the ‘soft skills, the balance of power will shift, with leaders taking a more creative, inspirational and motivational role in the partnership.

What part are leaders playing in contemporary transformation of the global economy? Why and how are they doing this?

Today, leaders are responsible for envisioning, architecting, strategizing and leading pre􏰁y much all the large scale transformation happening in the global economy. What motivates them? Various drivers. Steve Jobs and other creators have flashes of inspiration about how a new product could transform our experience—for example, the iPod allowed us to play the soundtrack to our lives everywhere we go. It also changed the technological game and everyone’s expectations, thus revolutionising the industry. Other leaders are thinking about business survival and growth. They consider right sizing and expansion opportunities in products, services and geographies.

The most senior leaders over- see the process of turning a vision into a strategy, turning a strategy into an operational plan, and communicating and motivating their colleagues and other stakeholders to deliver the necessary changes. This is a protracted hands-on process. Generally, enterprise-wide transformation in global organisations takes around two years to deliver fully. All organisations are also considering how best to manage market competition, regulatory changes, environmental shifts, security issues, talent requirements, etc. All these external forces prompt change planning and execution, crafted and led by the organisation’s leaders.

In addition to the more mundane aspects of planning and managing change, leading and driving transformation effectively requires a lot of emotional intelligence, strong strategic influencing skills and persistence. Imagine the difference between the virtual trainer on your wrist motivating you to do ten more press-ups versus a live personal trainer right next to you. Which would be more effective in pumping up your volume?

Written by

Dr Elizabeth Coffey, Founder and CEO, Spark Leadership.

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