Terence Mauri, author of The Leader’s Mindset, explains why the world needs leaders who are equipped to lead in a world increasingly influenced by the impact of artificial intelligence.
About six weeks ago I received an email from somebody called Amy Ingram. It was a friendly and professional email, scheduling a meeting with the CEO of a new start-up. After a couple of email exchanges the meeting was confirmed and I thanked Amy for her time. When I met with the CEO, he looked at me and smiled. “What did you think of Amy Ingram?” he asked. Confused, I replied that she was very professional and efficient at her job. The CEO smiled again, and told me Amy was not a human being but AI (artificial intelligence). The clue was in the name.
It seems like science fiction has become science fact. We live in an age of wonder – cars that drive themselves, platforms that anticipate our needs, and robots capable of everything from advanced manufacturing to complex surgery. Automation, algorithms and AI are transforming not only business, but also every facet of daily life.
While many fear that robots will take their jobs, the rise of machine intelligence begs a more important question. It is a question that should have been uppermost in the minds of the delegates at the World Economic Forum’s annual Davos meeting last week, as they gathered in snowy Switzerland to discuss the challenges facing the world.
How do you lead yourself and others in the age of AI?
Not taking a Risk Is A Risk.
According to a new McKinsey study, 80% of CEOs believe their business model is at risk and only 6% are satisfied with their innovation performance. Unexpected, rapid change is everywhere – and the greatest weapon against it is a radical shift in how leaders think and act. Now more than ever you must use brains, guts and an action-oriented mindset to ensure that your organization doesn’t become a footnote in corporate history.
You need to learn to ask questions instead of being the expert, be more data driven, iterate rapidly and develop a learning mindset. And emotional intelligence (EQ) will take centre stage for anyone who wants to lead. Davos attendee and CEO of Alibaba Jack Ma says “I believe if a leader wants to be successful, they should have a high EQ.”
Here are three shortcuts to leading in the age of AI.
Fail Fast To Learn Fast.
Stop worrying about the rate of failure because you can afford a lot of failures if they’re cheap. As the saying goes, “fail fast, fail cheap and move on”. To fail intelligently, you need to focus on three simple rules. First, know what success looks like and doesn’t look like. I’m always surprised at the lack of a clear outcome. Deciding what not to focus on can also limit the uncertainty. Second, convert assumptions into knowledge and learning. This is a much smarter use of time than trying to prove how right you are. Finally, codify and share what’s been learned with a process known as ‘After Action Reviews’ (AAR). Pioneered by the military to ensure continuous learning, the process involves asking – 1. What did you intend to happen? 2. What happened? 3. What are the lessons learned?
WEF attendee and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is one of the most transformative leaders on the planet. He understands that success doesn’t happen overnight. Rather, you must think long-term, plant seeds for the future and start reinventing today while building tomorrow. This means rethinking everything in your business from culture and operations to strategy and talent asking three powerful questions.
- How successful are we at creating new products, services or business models?
- How effective are we at adapting to new changes or disruptions?
- Does our culture reward risk and failure?
Think 10 [x], not 10%.
When was the last time you set a challenge for yourself that pushed you to deliver more than you thought was humanly possible? Most people think about how they can grow by 10% or 20%, not by a factor of 10. 10[x] leaders are hardwired to think bigger and bolder, whether it’s the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation wiping out malaria in the next ten years or Elon Musk making space tourism a reality. They have an eye on the future and can spot an unmet opportunity quickly before others.
You don’t have to be a CEO to think 10[x]. It’s about taking control of your vision rather than someone else hiring you to fulfil theirs. Get started, have a clear destination, fail fast, test ideas lightly and often, and know that those who think 10[x] hold two beliefs: 1. problems can’t be solved with yesterday’s thinking, and 2. you have the resources to achieve your goals.
Next time you receive an email, don’t assume it’s from a human being. The future has already arrived. To lead in this brave new world, you will have to find the courage to upgrade your business model and your mindset multiple times in order to remain viable. The bad news is, you’re probably not going to learn this at business school.