Preparing to Lead in an Increasingly AI-driven World: 4 Attributes to Develop
By Arijit Banerjee
The advent of technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) is taking the world by storm. On one hand, they are limiting the scope of some jobs but on the other, they are also creating newer, hitherto unheard of opportunities. As per the World Economic Forum (WEF), 5 million jobs will be lost before 2020, while over 2.1 million new ones will be created. WEF adds that the only differentiator for human workers versus machines will be our intelligence – both social and emotional.
Following are four key attributes that leaders will need to excel in the modern world.
1. Develop people skills: People or soft skills like communication, collaboration and empathy are becoming more important as technology becomes extremely powerful and pervasive. About 62% of employers place people skills as a critical criterion for job placement. However, 89% of them find it difficult to hire talent with relevant qualities. The key to people skills is social intelligence - an attribute developed through continuous human interactions. It entails the flair for saying the right thing at the right place, the ability to strike interesting conversations with an individual or a group and listen intently, and understanding one’s social role among others. These are natural, mostly non-standard, human behaviours that machines cannot learn, but skills that are required for critical activities such as decision making, team motivation, etc.
2. Articulate clear vision: Back in 1999, Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon, laid out a vision statement that resonates even today. He said: “Our vision is to use this (Amazon) platform to build Earth’s most customer-centric company, a place where customers can come to find and discover anything and everything they might want to buy online.” Even today Amazon is perceived in the market as an ‘anything, everything’ brand. The stickiness of the vision can be attributed to its clarity and simplicity.
The ability to simplify comes only with deep thinking and unmatched preparation. By clearly articulating the vision, leaders provide direction and help others understand why an action was initiated, and if the vision is serving its purpose, or if there have been any deviations. It is particularly important in the current world because vision involves creating something new – a capability machines haven’t learnt yet.
3. Ensure adaptability: AI will create new roles like a context designer – a smart decision designer who takes various contexts such as business, individual characteristics, and culture into account while architecting the solution. Clearly, technology is becoming cognitive. Demand for skills that can develop such technologies and also tap into business opportunities around these will be high. Adaptability will be the key here. It will help leaders not just survive but also thrive in this transformation. Training the mind to be inquisitive, looking at things from multiple perspectives, keeping the big picture in mind, and being open to trial and error, are attributes that will pay high dividends.
4. Take training programs to bridge gaps between business and technical programs: Emerging technologies are shortening the skills life cycle. In India, a report published by industry bodies - FICCI and Nasscom - predicts that by 2022, 37% of professionals will be in roles that require very different skill sets. For the next generation workforce, a university degree might not be enough. Experts say these candidates will have to re-skill themselves about 20 times during their career span. The best ways to do this are through certification and self-learning. According to research, professionals with certified skills will be given more weightage while hiring and will be offered better pay packages. E-Learning portals and edtech training institutes will assume immense importance as platforms to learn new skills.
Today CFOs, CIOs and CMOs are accountable for more than what was expected of them traditionally. The new mandate for c-suite leaders is to become business partners and drive strategy, profitability and growth. As change seems inevitable in an increasingly digital and tech-driven world, an open and unbiased attitude can help business leaders get through it triumphantly.