A hybrid model for leadership in the epoch of AI – Sanjeewaka Kulathunga

While AI is heavily influencing the majority of our daily lives, it poses an alarming question – how will it change the leadership of businesses globally?

According to management consultant company Gartner, the global artificial intelligence software industry would reach US$ 62 billion in 2022 with knowledge management, virtual assistants, self-driving cars, the digital workplace and crowdsourced data being the top five categories for AI software investment last year.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) observes that AI may contribute 15.7 trillion dollars to the global economy by 2030. The enormous potential of this technology will sweep the globe, and alter the demands and expectations of organisations and people.

For the past decade, CEOs have been thinking about creating and sustaining data driven businesses while maximising profits, and driving innovation and efficiency under the umbrella of effective corporate financial health.

Currently, artificial intelligence can be woven into some similar corporate leadership characteristics. So will there be a greater possibility of the AI machine outperforming humans’ conscious leadership in the realm of corporate decision making for the betterment of humanity?

To confront future challenges in the global business environment caused mainly by the rapid advancement of digital technologies and infrastructure, corporate leaders need to be more conscious of executing pragmatic decisions that drive digital strategy as an emerging chief AI officer (CAIO) or chief data officer (CDO). Having realised the enormous potential of AI technology, current corporate leadership models are required to change with the rapid transformation of automated digitalisation in a business environment.

Data and information analysts and engineers must collaborate closely with corporate leadership to make artificial intelligence a reality.

AI has begun to play the role of a supportive and automated force to redefine organisational processes. With the proliferation of these technologies, several corporate giants are being compelled to redefine their business models to survive in the highly competitive globalised market while creating a vast space for new growth that can be built upon their brand legacies.

The sustainability of corporate leadership hinges on how it applies AI in smart ways that will create a competitive edge for the business over its rivals. Accordingly, it’s necessary to develop diverse leadership skills by adopting and transiting into extended intelligence, by simultaneously fine-tuning AI and human intelligence.

Extended intelligence is the application of AI to improve its human counterpart. Human and artificial intelligences are excellent at balancing each other’s deficiencies, and complementing each other’s strengths.

In a hybrid model of leadership, business leaders are able to use their emotional intelligence, outstanding reasoning skills and decision-making abilities – while acknowledging that machines and AI are better able to process enormous amounts of data quickly, improve outcomes and reduce costs effectively.

Leaders must acquire the skills necessary to develop AI systems, create hybrid models and assimilate enormous quantities of data to synthesise it into insightful corporate decisions.

To train and prepare men and machines to run businesses, leaders must also learn to grasp the dynamics of the relationships between humans and machines. The continuous ability to adjust to the power and influence of both parties generates an outstanding competitive outcome.

In the future, fostering business innovation and a competitive edge will depend more on a hybrid leadership model.

Emotional intelligence is crucial to effective leadership. It is the best tool for business leaders who wish to outperform AI in terms of managing, influencing and motivating people for better performance.

Even if technology changes at the speed of light, the contributions of excellent leaders who are patient listeners and motivators of people will continue to be respected and valued in the world of business.

The empathy shown by such leaders will foster trust and build healthy connections among all stakeholders of any business including its employees. Furthermore, corporate leaders should also ensure that the ethical considerations regarding AI technology in the workplace are in line with consumers’ and brands’ values.

Business leaders shouldn’t delay having their tolerance broadened by leveraging risk and uncertainty while remaining resilient in the face of rapid changes in the technological environment.

They must be pragmatic and respond in the context of the trends and patterns of global market conditions, and create paradigm shifts in the cognitive, behavioural and emotional domains.