Why AI Will Never Replace Leaders
In 2019, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) pioneer said 40% of jobs would be displaceable by AI within 15 years. Does that mean that robots and automation will soon destroy the nation’s workforce? Far from it.
The World Economic Forum estimates that while 85 million jobs will be replaced by technology, another 97 million will come into existence. Even as repetitive tasks in warehouses, factories, and back offices become streamlined by AI and automation, the role of human, interpersonal and empathetic jobs is expected to grow. The need for human interaction will outweigh the need for cutting head counts. Instead of eliminating jobs, AI can help existing employees to evolve into new positions.
Nowhere is this more evident than in leadership roles. AI may automate some leadership tasks, but it can’t replace leaders. Across the board, AI is more useful as augmentation, taking over thankless, mundane tasks and releasing employees not to the dubious freedom from work, but to an elevated form of employment that depends on soft skills, empathy and technical optimization.
Embracing AI as a Leader
Leaders can set an example for others in their organization by embracing what AI has to offer. By automating tasks, they free up their time to work on strategic initiatives, improving the company’s resilience, and even working with people one-on-one to help them optimize their skills.
This not only allows for greater efficiency and growth, but allows for deeper connections and insights, and may help leaders see how to discover the full potential of their workforce. Potential new leaders can be identified, and succession planning gets easier. When leaders are able to eliminate busywork, decision fatigue, and become more visible and accessible, the entire company benefits.
Pivoting the Workforce
In an age of AI, leaders need to be stronger than ever, and ready to help address the fears of a workforce faced with the perceived threat of being replaced by machines. Leading teams through upskilling, reselling and adopting new technology can reduce and relieve those fears, helping pivot the workforce away from a position of reactivity and towards proactivity.
By identifying strengths and helping workers build on them to develop their own new roles in the company, you can create a sense of ownership and instill feelings of personal worth and value in your team. The result is a stronger, more future-ready workforce that is constantly reinventing itself to meet new challenges.
Qualities AI Can’t Mimic
Finally, human leaders have a significant edge over artificial intelligence in four key areas that make them indispensable to your organization. According to the Human Capital Leadership Institute, only human leaders can appropriately leverage the following:
While AI may come up with the most logical way of solving a problem, is it the best way? Creative leaders who use their intuition and creativity to problem solve find better paths forward, in part because they have the compassion to understand how decisions affect others in the company.
While AI is perfectly serviceable for questions to which the answer is yes or no (or a set fact regardless of context) variable problems may still need a human connection to resolve. An employee asking a general question about benefits may be able to navigate an AI-powered dashboard with ease. An employee inquiring about a specific exception will often require more personalized attention from a leader with both knowledge and authority.
Mission & Vision
As work becomes more automated, human values become more important. A recent study found that mission-driven workers are 30 percent more likely to grow into high performers, and that they are 54% more likely to stay at a company for 5 years or longer. Mission and vision are two factors that inspire and motivate employees, and they cannot be replicated by machines.