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Man vs Machine: Leadership in the age of artificial intelligence

Uma Ganesh
Artificial Intelligence in travel, Artificial Intelligence in entertainment, Artificial Intelligence in shopping, Artificial Intelligence in food delivery, Artificial Intelligence in banking, Artificial Intelligence in learning, Artificial Intelligence in personal assistants, Human intelligence AI

Artificial Intelligence has begun to enter every spectrum of business and every day life. We have started experiencing transformation in travel, entertainment, shopping, food delivery, banking, learning, personal assistants, to name a few. In many of these examples, AI is playing assistive, augmentative or sometimes, autonomous force. Competitive forces impacted by AI are acting as triggers for large well-established businesses to rethink their business models in order to survive and avoid extinction in some cases and in others to create new growth trajectories and build on their brand legacies.

Therefore, rather than flighting the progression of technology or AI, the success of leadership lies in deploying AI in smart ways that would benefit the business. The need of the hour is to develop versatile leadership acumen that is capable of not just handling AI but dealing with the transition from AI to Extended Intelligence (EI).

EI is the use of AI to enhance human intelligence. Human intelligence and AI are good at balancing out each other’s weaknesses and complementing each other’s strengths. Hence it is important to change the mental model about what is important in one's role and begin focusing on what can humans do better than any smart machine.

By recognising that machines and AI have better ability to crunch enormous amounts of data in a short period of time, improve outcomes and lower costs and there is no point in trying to compete on these fronts, leaders can use their emotional intelligence, superior comprehension capability and decision making capability that machines are not equipped to address. Therefore leaders should develop the competency to train AI systems, build models and assimilate large quantum of data in order to synthesise the data into meaningful insights.

Leaders also need to learn to appreciate the dynamics of machine to machine relationship as well as man to machine relationship and groom teams to build capability to manage teams comprising of both machine and humans. What this would also lead to is to be able to constantly adapt to shifting balance of power and influence of both man and machine. Collaboration with teams and valuing contribution of partners and interest groups would become even more critical in the coming years in order to foster innovation.

In this context the emotional intelligence which has been considered a critical cornerstone for successful leadership has now assumed even more significance. How to better manage, influence and relate to people and motivating them for better performance by adapting to technology trends is what leaders have to offer and where they can excel as compared to AI and machines.

As an outstanding leader who is a great listener and motivator of people, even when technology changes take place, the contribution of such a leader would continue to be valued. Machines do not have feelings and therefore empathy that business leaders demonstrate could go a long way in establishing trust and building positive relationships. Business leaders must also ensure that they go beyond the immediate benefits AI can deliver to monitoring the ethical impacts of AI technology on their workplace, customers, and reputation.

They need to expand their limits of toleration of risks and ambiguity while showing resilience in the face of constant change.

In summary in the age of AI, leaders have to play the game differently by thinking, acting and reacting differently thus requiring transformation on the cognitive, behavioural and emotional domains.

(The writer is chairperson, Global Talent Track, a corporate training solutions company)