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AI and Leadership

Jackie: Welcome to Slingshot25 Shotcast, a series of bite-sized podcasts that will feel like an espresso shot to your brain. I’m Jackie. 

Courtney: I’m Courtney. 

Jackie: Something we’ve been thinking about is artificial intelligence. Everyone’s thinking about that. But we’re thinking about it because we saw a future workplace survey recently that said 64 percent of employees said they would trust a robot more than they trust their manager.  We’re in the manager business so… That was kind of intriguing to us. Yeah. 

Courtney: I think that we stepped away and said, what does that really mean? And my interpretation is, I think people are saying, you know what? I could get what I need from a robot and I wouldn’t have to put up with my manager’s bullshit.

Maybe. Maybe that’s what they’re saying. I don’t know. 

Jackie: I think there’s probably some truth to that. You know, they’re thinking that this robot can give them work instructions, direction, and feedback on how they’re performing. Yeah, and they wouldn’t have to get all of the human crap. 

Courtney: Yeah, the ego, the bad day, the mean, like high-accountability that doesn’t seem fair sometimes. Yeah, I don’t have to deal with any of that with a robot. 

Jackie: That’s right. So, of course, I think you all know that we’re in the business of helping leaders with all of that other crap. So, we’re kind of thinking, if you want to future-proof your leadership, because we know that AI is blowing our minds every day at this point. And AI is really good at, you know, putting strategy together, putting plans together, saying, do this and then that, like, you know. It’s taking all of the knowledge that exists out there in some digital form and bringing it to bear.

But one of the things that AI can’t do. And now, we should probably say that maybe someday they will, is they can’t bring the human touch to it yet. Not, when we say human touch, of course, we’re talking about those deep, profound skills of human-to-human interaction. The skill of humility. The skill of curiosity.

I think AI can look like it’s curious, but it’s not. It’s just, you know, it’s just collecting up, you know, all of the information that’s out there and bringing it to you in a way that you’ve asked for it. It’s not genuinely curious. It can’t bring that skill. It can’t bring the skill of empathy. Of like, reading the expression on your face, reading your body language, just being present in a space with you, and wondering what this experience is like for you, and then doing something accordingly.

That’s empathy. It can’t bring that. It can’t bring that, yet. And it can’t bring this skill of believing in you, believing in another human being. That’s what AI can’t do. And those are skills, of course, that we teach leaders all the time, because we’ve always known that that is actually where leadership happens, those real human skills.

Courtney: And if you’re a leader that doesn’t want to be replaced by AI, when you practice those skills, you create connection and caring, and that’s what people need at work. So one of the things that… But here’s the deal, there are leaders that are practicing empathy today.

There are leaders that aren’t. So if you already don’t think the tough, touchy feely skills are important; which you may not, and you kind of are just onto the next thing, let’s focus on this. I think the message is you better wake up because the only thing that separates you potentially in the future is your ability to be human, to connect and care about people and develop those skills is really important.

And maybe it’s a time to ask yourself what value am I adding to the people around me? What do people get from following me?

Jackie: That’s right. And then I hope that the next question you’re asking yourself is, and how do I get better at those things? I’ll tell you, I went to a conference recently, and there were several speakers.

This was a, of course, in the space humans-at-work kind of conference. And almost every single speaker that was there was giving a message of the way of the future is caring. And I know that they’re all reading the tea leaves of AI and what it’s doing to our workplaces.

And they’re realizing that the thing that is still outside the circle of what AI can do is all of those human skills. And so this is the time. I love how you said it’s a time to wake up to: this is what leaders really need to think about and they are the first things we know we know because we talk to leaders all the time and we work with them in the classroom all the time that when push comes to shove, when work needs to get done, these are the things that they push to the edges and think that the best value they can bring is a is those sort of tactical hard skills of plan and manage the work.

We’re not saying planning and managing the work is unimportant. We never say that. We never say that. And there’s still an awful lot of planning and management work that leaders need to do. But we’re also saying that if you aren’t really investing in those skills that are outside the circle of what AI can do, the truly human skills of humility, curiosity, the empathy and believing in others, then you’re going to find yourself very quickly being one of those leaders that have employees who’d rather work for a robot. 

Courtney: And if you want to learn those skills, I know a great place to do it. Oh, where’s that? We have a little class here called The Truth of Leading Others, where we actually teach the skills that Jackie’s talking about.  So, if you want to learn more about that, shoot her an email at 

Jackie: So that’s all for this episode of our Shotcast, but we always have much more to say, always, always. If you want more, drop us a line at Until next time.

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