5 skills every leader needs in the age of AI

Some people fear losing their jobs to the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution, and there’s no doubt that AI is changing the labor market. McKinsey & Company predict that, by 2030, 375 million workers (about 14% of the global workforce) may need to switch occupations. But the age of AI isn’t the end of the line for employees; it’s a chance for them to develop skills that the bots still can’t replicate. It’s crucial to remember that tech like AI is designed to boost productivity. AI is currently able to take on tasks that involve complex calculations, pattern recognition, and data analyses, but not roles that require judgment, empathy, and creativity. These are the kinds of skills needed in artificial intelligence workplaces that will help those organizations to thrive.

McKinsey estimates that the demand for emotional and social skills will grow across all industries by 26% in the US and 22% in Europe. They also found that 82% of executives at companies with more than $100 million in annual revenue believe retraining and reskilling must be at least half of the answer to addressing their skills gap. Leaders who successfully use AI to complement their intellectual activities and work on developing their human-centric skills will gain better positions in the market. 

5 skills every leader will need to develop in the age of AI

#1 Adaptability

The pace of change in the workplace is staggering, and leaders need to be flexible to adapt to shifting expectations, working environments, and required skill sets. Crucially, they’ll need to perceive change as an opportunity to grow. The good news is that hundreds of thousands of years of evolution have given the human brain an enormous capacity for coping with change when it needs to. Whether learning new skills or experimenting with different strategies, humans have developed the critical ability to show resilience in the face of difficulty and persistence in finding solutions to overcome it. Thank goodness for that, because with the constant and inevitable change incited by technological development in business today, leaders must be flexible if they want to succeed.

#2 Critical thinking

As former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger wrote in The Atlantic, “AI is likely to win any game assigned to it. But for our purposes as humans, the games are not only about winning; they are about thinking.”

Technology has only advanced as far as it has because of humans continuously solving problems along the way. The human brain enjoys solving problems and, unlike any robot, is capable of both objective and subjective analysis. This ability to think critically has become even more valuable as we navigate the changing division of labor between humans and machines. When faced with gray decisions that don’t have clear right or wrong outcomes, rather than relying on gut instinct, emotion, or pre-programming, leaders with critical thinking skills can use logic and reasoning to come up with innovative ideas and solve today’s complex problems.

#3 Creativity

Robots and machines can currently replicate; they cannot create and innovate. Although AI can do many things, it struggles to compete with humankind’s ability to invent, imagine, and dream. It’s this imaginative capacity that makes the human brain so adept at critical thinking. Sure, machines can outperform us in many tactical and technical applications, but our human brain is more proficient at setting goals and coming up with creative strategies to achieve them. Creativity involves contextual and cultural understanding, which AI struggles to contend with—at least for now. Creative thinking and human ingenuity have become essential assets for current and future leaders as they adapt their thinking to new technology and changes. Of all the skills needed for artificial intelligence success, creativity is perhaps the most human-centric trait.

#4 Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EQ) describes an individual’s ability to control, be aware of, and express their own emotions—and be mindful of the emotions of others. Leaders with high EQ show empathy, coach others, manage complex relationships, and get the best from the people they work with. Machines can’t easily replicate this ability to connect with other humans, which means that those with high EQ are increasingly sought after by companies needing leaders or team mentors.

#5 Communication

The ability to successfully exchange information between people is closely linked to EQ and is a vital skill in any workplace. Humans are social beings, and communication with others forms the basis of many of our most meaningful experiences. Human interaction is central to work culture, and today’s leaders must hone their ability to communicate effectively by developing listening, speaking, and writing skills. 

A cultural shift to continuous learning 

With the rise of AI, today’s workplace requires leaders who are willing to adapt to change and committed to continuous learning. The five skills needed in artificial intelligence workplaces are not abilities that machines can easily replicate, making them even more valuable to today’s organizations. The starting point for meeting the demand for these skills is creating a learning culture that provides a pipeline of development opportunities for employees at all levels. One best practice is to use highly interactive, immersive learning experiences that mimic real-world challenges. Blueline’s leadership simulations are designed to help your leaders develop interpersonal and critical thinking skills that no machine can match. Contact us today to learn more or schedule a private demonstration for your company.

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