How can AI influence business leadership in the future?

24% of people aged 25-29 would replace their boss with a robot.

As artificial intelligence becomes further embedded into our everyday working lives, we are already seeing the footprint of machine learning, automation, algorithms and robots in many of our professions and sectors.

However, when we look at the upper levels of business management and leadership, these technological shifts are less evident, with C level Executives continuing to lead and strategise as they have done before.

In Ireland, there are more than 500 CEOs. The question is, when will we start to see machines and robots play a more central role in the CEO sphere, and is a ‘Robot CEO’ realistic in the short to medium term?

Leading with Humanity, Ethics and Integrity

Understanding AI is undoubtedly complex, with Dario Gil, vice president for AI and quantum computing at IBM describing it as “the new IT; it means lots of things to different people.” AI includes machine learning, neural networks and deep learning, but has also become an umbrella term for other data-related subjects.

New research shows that 24% of people aged 25-29 would replace their boss with a robot, demonstrating an interesting trend among Generation Z. However, these data sets are perhaps less founded in AI and robotics and more in current employee engagement.

It’s telling that the 20-30% of people who would willingly replace their human boss with a robot is about the same percentage of people who are consistently classified as “actively disengaged” at work.

In addition, research from analytics giant Gallup demonstrates that 70% of how we feel about work, namely our emotional commitment, is driven by who our manager is, again underlining the centrality of human behavioural traits when making decisions on leadership.

As the Irish economy moves forward, values will define how we use and leverage the potential of AI. Tomo Noda of the Harvard Business Review believes that we will need more focus on leadership with humanity, ethics and integrity, stating “only good people can create good AI.

With robots, traits such as bias are removed, and characteristics such as objectivity enhanced, however, important qualities such as empathy are removed or diminished.

Last week, Ireland’s Small Firms Association found that 35% of CEOs said they had never received financial training, therefore could we start to see efficiency supersede leadership qualities even within senior management levels of business?

With many roadblocks and challenges for the economy looming, primarily in the shape of Brexit and trade tariffs, it is a sound integration of both human and tech which will provide the leadership required to ensure our economy remains robust.

Human leaders have played a central role in helping to steer us out of the 2008 recession, and with diplomacy and relationship building key to our post-Brexit future, humans will undoubtedly be the key influencers within the C level for decades to come.

Ardlinn is a Global Irish based Executive Search firm and part of the Cpl resources group. Our name, Ardlinn, is a combination of two Irish words, ‘ard’ meaning ‘high’ or ‘peak’ and ‘linn’ meaning ‘with us’.

The name reflects what we represent as an executive search firm – for our clients, we offer the opportunity to reach leaders at the very highest levels in business.

With us, you will get access to leaders in every industry – highly specialised or senior people who are driving major businesses forward. We work closely with our clients to build a compelling proposition and engage executives who best fit your unique organizational needs.

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