Automatic Leadership: successful leadership traits in an AI-based world

As we swiftly enter the world of automation, obviously there will be a profound impact on society and businesses. As the AI revolution continues to unravel at high velocity, there will be significant impact and change in the leadership models in public and private enterprises. It is evident that AI will play a pivotal role in supporting the quantitative leadership elements and decision making. This is because by its very nature – the AI playbook will commoditise the data based elements of leadership. Based on our discussions with business leaders in the old and new world there will be an even greater emphasis on the softer leadership. Beyond IQ and EQ, a new set of quotients will become more prominent as automation gathers pace. Here’s our take on what ‘leadership quotients’ will make a difference as we continue the path to singularity:

Compassionate Quotient (CQ): Jeff Weiner CEO of LinkedIn is a big proponent of this and did a great talk on this recently in a graduation speech at Wharton. In the workplace CQ is about empathy but with real action. He describes it as aspiring for compassion – which he describes as walking a mile in the other person’s shoes; and understanding their hopes, their fears, their strengths and their weaknesses. And it means doing everything within your power to set them up to be successful. In an AI based world not only will CQ drive team performance but also company performance.

Modesty Quotient (MQ): With the speed of business model and technological advancement traditional hierarchies are being stripped away into flatter and more network based structures. This means leaders need to show a much higher level of humbleness and engagement. This may require the business leader to gain external advice and help internally by engaging more freely with individuals in the organisation who are a few levels below them. This approach is natural in many of the global internet titans but somewhat lacking in the more traditional companies.

Pivot Quotient (PQ): In the world of automation an organisation needs to be responsive, innovate and quickly needs to adapt based on competition and market opportunities. This is not particularly radical given many organisations have strived to do this for many years. The difference now of course is the sheer velocity of the pace of change driven by AI making the notion of pivoting critical. For business leaders this means listening more effectively, removing the ego and better communication and engagement with shareholders and the workforce when making a drastic change. It’s tough for CEO’s – particularly in publicly quoted businesses but they must show real character in taking the risk and remain firm when making a course correction too.

Social Quotient (SQ): In the AI world, Leaders and their organisations will be defined by the role they play in supporting society as the full force of automation kicks in; particularly as it relates to job displacement. There will need to be greater levels of education, training and re-deployment strategies which will require specific attention and investment. There will need to be better collaboration between policy makers and boards of corporations to inhibit any of the negative impact of automation. Leaders who are socially aware and are impactful will gain greater trust from their workforce potentially leading to a happier and productive environment.

With all this said, this may not significantly alter what are in many ways seen as rather an intrinsic set of leadership models to what already exist. However, the big difference is that there is an even greater emphasis on the softer (versus the hard or quantitative) leadership traits which include taking empathy to a newer level, demonstrating humbleness, being steadfast when pivoting and finally being socially aware and creating a much better level of engagement with the workforce. We are in a journey and these quotients may change and evolve as things develop so let us know what you think and happy to hear your views.


By Praf Vagh, Consultant at Eric Salmon & Partners’ London office

Source: Executive Grapevine