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The Potential of AI for Developing Leaders

All managers, from team leads to CEOs, have two accountabilities: managing for performance now and developing future leaders to fuel the continuous flourishing of the organization. We have quickly experienced that both accountabilities can be well supported by generative AI in moments of need, and over the long term.

Managing for Performance

While managing for performance is easier than developing future leaders, it is still a formidable challenge.  Most managers do not relish this task which includes annual performance reviews, compensation decisions, and ongoing accountability discussions. Even when goals, agreed-upon metrics and evaluation are well defined, few managers do it well. They have trouble delivering bad news and even miss opportunities to deliver good news well. There are style clashes and implicit biases that get in the way and, specific to remote work, observing performance has become harder.

Developing Future Leaders

Even when commonly identified as a top 5 succession risk for most CEOs and Boards, long-term leadership development is hard and most results can be considered marginal. Filling the leadership bench with talent equal to and better than the incumbents takes constant effort over decades, not just a single burst of focus. However, few will deny the power and importance of long-term leadership development on organizational success. Can new technology, such as generative AI, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality help?

What We Know

We have been in talent management, succession planning, and leadership development for more than 50 years. We have developed many of the tools and systems widely in use today. 

In talking to thousands of managers about these imperatives, they report that they don’t look forward to long-term leadership development and succession planning processes. These are not high on their list of priorities. Performance “now” takes precedence, and they don’t enjoy naming winners and losers or having to inform team members of their decisions. For long-term talent planning decisions, they aren’t likely to be around when their predictions are tested, so they don’t get recognized or rewarded for these activities. 

Worse, they are not sure about the advice and counsel they must render to develop a future leader.  How often?  Which processes? With what tools and support systems?

In the past, we wrote FYI, For Your Improvement© to address the content need. It was the best-selling development resource available. Before that, it was the Successful Manager’s Handbook©. We laid out the process in both The Leadership Pipeline© and The Leadership Machine©. There is no doubt about what needs to be done and how to do it…if leaders will just do it.

A Future-Oriented Approach

Today we have authored the Develop It Yourself© series to provide up-to-date development content supporting the unique needs of Leaders, Managers, Individual Contributors, Teams and High Potentials. Backed by five “periodic tables” of KSAs (Knowledge, Skills/Abilities and Attributes) these resources provide meaningful guidance, yet they are often “out of reach” during the moment of need.

We know that our resources help yet they need to go further than they have in the past. Consider the fact that these common challenges are occurring in your organization at this very moment.

  • A manager is preparing to deliver bad news and is contemplating the best way to approach the conversation.
  • An individual contributor needs to build trust and rapport with a new cross-functional team.
  • A leader needs to articulate and cascade a vision for their division in a way that inspires and motivates others.
  • A new team is forming, and team members are curious about the best practices to use to achieve their goals together.
  • A meeting will be held later today that will include conflict. Those participating want to understand how to ensure the meeting is constructive and effective.

With these scenarios in mind, let’s consider how generative AI can add value. Simply put, this technology enables instant access to behavioral-based guidance by leveraging decades of research-based knowledge, development tips, strategies, and support. It can allows users to engage in a “conversation with their bookshelf” to get coaching at the moment of need.

Generative AI can help leaders manage for performance today, AND develop leaders for the future!

The Career Architect©

Our most advanced and versatile solution, The Career Architect©, is an AI-assisted solution built to support any organizational model of competencies, values, cultural attributes, assessments, teaming or sales.  It provides a coach to employees at the moment of need and accesses only our research-based library of over 5,000 career and development tips and strategies. By focusing on the most relevant content that satisfies a user query, immediately guidance and coaching is available to drive meaningful action at work.

Some Applications

Teaming Skills—access the drivers, markers, and behavioral practices of well-formed, high-performing teams and understand and correct team maladies. Learn strategies for coaching and managing your team.

Assessments—gain practical strategies to develop effective behaviors given what you are learning about your personality preferences and traits, emotional intelligence, strengths, multi-rater feedback, collaboration skills, interpersonal style, and more.

Personalized Learning Paths & Assignments—leverage a range of development templates and suggestions for increasing effectiveness; pursue roles and assignments that best support your professional career objectives.

70/20/10 learning—follow the most effective learning strategy for development: 70% from the right jobs/assignments, 20% from coaches and mentors, 10% from classroom and other learning vehicles.

A Look Further Into The Future

As Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality become mainstream and more affordable, the combined technology resources will expand what’s possible for development, at scale.

  • Create virtual environments that simulate real-world leadership challenges; practice decision-making, crisis management, delegation, listening, and EQ skills in a risk-free virtual setting.
  • Use algorithms to recommend ongoing learning opportunities, leadership articles, and relevant resources based on leaders’ interests and performance; provide immersive simulations to keep leaders engaged and continuously refining their skills.
  • Overlay digital information into the real-world environment, allowing developing leaders to access relevant data, feedback, or coaching tips during live situations.
  • Facilitate team-building exercises in virtual spaces, allowing leaders to collaborate with geographically dispersed teams. This fosters cross-cultural understanding and improves remote leadership skills; enhances collaborative experiences by overlaying relevant information and visual cues onto physical team spaces.
  • Utilize data analytics to identify leadership trends, potential areas of improvement, and the impact of development programs on leadership effectiveness.
  • Integrate data visualization tools into virtual environments, helping leaders make informed decisions based on real-time information.
  • Enable leaders to virtually visit different cultural and business contexts, experience diverse leadership styles, and develop global leadership competencies; overlay cultural insights and communication tips during real-world interactions, promoting cultural intelligence.

By combining AI, VR, and AR in leadership development, organizations will create dynamic, adaptive, and engaging development programs that prepare future leaders for the complex challenges of the business world.

Meanwhile, our AI-driven, Career Architect©, is live and accessible now…and, when the time is right, we are eager to incorporate what’s coming next.

Schedule a Consultation

Schedule a Consultation Directly with our Team to learn about how our 360 Survey can be used in your organization.