An Experiment With AI: What Are the Most Important Skills for a Leader in Today’s World?

If like me you’ve been following the news, or even having a little dabble with one of the new Artificial Intelligence tools that seem to be striking fear into the hearts of some of the world’s smartest people, you may also like me, be getting curious. I’ve asked AI everything from ‘which is the single most important food’ (disappointedly not pizza as I hoped), had a chat about the meaning of life (I recommend not asking this one – rabbit hole warning), and many work-related questions. I’ve been trying to work out what the benefit is to me in how the technology works right now. And given that a recent article suggested 300 million jobs could be replaced by AI, I thought I’d better join the party!

Now my intention here is not being lazy, more of an experiment to see if, as someone who’s worked with leadership development for many years, AI agrees with the findings and recommendations, so here goes, let’s see what AI says -and read to the end where I’ll share my surprising conclusions.

What does it take to be a great leader in today’s world? The answer is not simple, as leadership is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that requires a combination of skills, qualities, and abilities. However, some skills are more essential than others, especially in today’s world, where leaders face unprecedented challenges and opportunities. In this blog post, I will discuss the most important skills for a leader in today’s world and why they matter.

1.  Communication is the key to effective leadership. As a leader, you need to be able to communicate your vision, goals, expectations, and feedback to your team, your customers, your partners, and your stakeholders. You also need to be able to listen actively and empathetically to their needs, concerns, and opinions. Communication skills help you to build trust, rapport, and collaboration with others, to persuade and influence others to support your ideas and initiatives, to resolve conflicts and misunderstandings, and to inspire and motivate others to perform at their best.

2. Adaptability is the ability to cope with change and uncertainty. As a leader, you need to be adaptable because today’s world is volatile and unpredictable. You face constant changes in technology, market trends, customer preferences, competition, regulations, and social issues. Adaptability skills help you to embrace change rather than resist it, to learn from new experiences rather than avoid them, to innovate rather than stagnate, and to lead your team through transitions and transformations.

3. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, and those of others. As a leader you need emotional intelligence because today’s world is diverse, interconnected, and emotional. You work with people from different backgrounds, cultures, perspectives, and values. Emotional intelligence skills help you to recognise and respect the emotions of others, as well as your own emotions to build trust, empathy, and loyalty with others. It helps you to manage conflict and stress effectively and to foster a positive and supportive work environment.

4. Critical thinking is the ability to think logically and analytically. As a leader, you need critical thinking because today’s world is complex, ambiguous, and information rich. You have access to vast amounts of data and information from various sources and channels. Critical thinking skills help you to evaluate the quality, relevance, accuracy, and validity of information. It helps to identify assumptions, biases, gaps, and inconsistencies, and to draw sound conclusions in order to make informed decisions and to solve problems creatively and efficiently.

5. Vision is the ability to create and communicate a compelling picture of the future. As a leader you need vision because today’s world is competitive, challenging, and opportunity filled. You must deal with multiple demands, expectations, and challenges from various stakeholders and situations. Vision skills help you to define and articulate your purpose, mission, values, and goals, and to align your actions and decisions with your vision. This can inspire and mobilise others to share your vision and to seize opportunities and overcome obstacles to achieve your vision.

These are some of the most important skills for a leader in today’s world. Of course, there are many other skills that leaders need to develop and refine, such as strategic thinking, collaboration, delegation, feedback, coaching, etc. However, these five skills are fundamental and indispensable for any leader who wants to succeed and make a positive impact in today’s world.

My ‘human’ Conclusions

I’ve found that if you ask the question in a slightly different way, you get a different answer, and that using different AI tools also gives you a different answer. Motivation, decision making, relationship building and coaching (100% agree with this one) also came up in other attempts I made.  Some of the responses also made suggestions on how to develop those skills – handy!

My summary is that I annoyingly can’t disagree with any of these responses, all of them are important skills for any leader in the modern world. I might argue that some are more important than others, or I might narrow them down to 3 to make it more digestible; or I might focus them in on the current environment that leaders of any level find themselves dealing with through the conversations I have with clients.

I then decided to sit back for a couple of days to reflect on this experiment and the responses, with some discomfort that maybe AI will put me out of a job in a few years! It was in my reflection that it dawned on me that these tools in some way are feeding society’s need for immediacy, a low tolerance for patience, and a fear of creating a distraction less space in which to reflect and find meaning in all the data accessible via the internet alone (64.3 zettabytes, or 138 billion DVDs that would circle the Earth 222 times according to AI)! We spend so much of our time searching for the right answer, or shortcutting to an answer, and it’s no different for today’s leaders and managers.

The weight of expectation we put on them to lead our businesses through change, promote wellbeing, drive productivity, inspire, and everything in between is phenomenal. We know middle managers and leaders are underinvested in, but carry much of the responsibility on their shoulders, and still expect them to have all the answers when we want them… often now.

My surprising conclusion to this experiment is that AI may be helpful right now. It may help us get to some kind of conclusion, although not necessarily the right one for us. Individuality, diversity and moreover the ability to create space to reflect, think and feel, (from what I can see) isn’t something that AI can do, at least for today. In a world of emerging technology and AI, surely the most important skill for any leader, is to be human.

To find out how we can support your leaders and managers to create space and develop their human skills, or anything else relating to people development, visit our website or give us a call on 01491 414010.


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