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How Leaders Confront New Challenges Posed by AI

From a certain perspective — artificial intelligence is new. It's just starting its implementation in business environments. Early adopters are just now starting to see the value from their investments. Some of the risks are not yet well defined.

In terms of leadership, however, AI isn't really anything different. It definitely represents major risk and opportunity, but you can deal with it the same way you handle many other challenges as a leader.

Leading With Vision and Culture

Staying true to the vision you've set for your organization by putting culture first are some of the strongest moves you can make to deal with potential hazards. These elements of leadership — communicating vision and promoting culture — give your team the guidance to make the right choices, whatever you come up against.

Recognizing a New Environment

Even so, it's true AI tech has the potential to change the course — not the game — for many industries and professions. You name the discipline: finance, tech development, retail, medicine or hospitality, and computer decision-making will probably have both predictable and unknown consequences for businesses. However, these might not be the types of changes you expect.

Adapting to Course Changes

Think about it in terms of golf. What would you do if the managers of one of your favorite courses decided to redesign? It's not unheard of and the solution is obvious: You would learn about the new design and play as you normally would. Additionally, would try to make the fewest strokes possible for each hole.

Using Your Strengths

You wouldn't have to make a lot of changes or do a lot of extra preparation. You've probably already done the hard part, which included establishing your vision of success, learning to develop your skills and getting to know the clubs in your bag. Chances are, your course isn't going to change so much that you need to use a whole new set of tools or play by different rules. It's still going to be golf.

It's the same with AI — and usually anything else people call a game changer. The dominant message is that everything is going to change and that's partly true. There will be changes. When you think about it, most of those changes won't be leadership-level concerns. They will modify the way you do things — not what you actually do.

Determining What To Do With AI

You will still sell things as a retail company, heal people as a hospital or welcome guests as a hotel chain. AI will change some things when you implement it. You may gain an edge with information, perspective or efficiency, but you may increase your risk concerning security, privacy, discrimination or safety. Trust your culture to help lead your team to a details-based solution, while you focus on what needs to be done to stay true to your vision and advance your goals.

Phil Gafka