The impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the working world has become very real with the launch of Chat GPT. Ironically, AI is forcing all of us, and especially leaders, to reconnect with our humanity. Over and over, the core message of “what will keep you relevant” is answered with “tap into the magic and talents that are intrinsic with being human”.
Kevin Britz, the owner of Leadership by Design, and one of the RainTree Coaches, has just published “The future of work is human”. A book that challenges us all to step into the five key skill sets that are uniquely human and critical for the survival of business in our ever-changing world. Kevin explores the 5 key skills (WING Skills) as defined by Walter van der Velde:
- Critical Thinking
- Social Intelligence and
- Attention Management
These five skills keep us relevant and, in fact, support us to lead and keep our businesses relevant. I’d like to explore what these mean and how they embrace AI and empower each of us.
- Creativity is the process of creating in a way that is new, useful and makes things better. It is grounded in curiosity and a confidence in the ability to find the alternative perspective that will lead change and improvement. AI works very successfully with the existing data and information in its data banks. The ability to be creative and innovative is uniquely human and critical with the amount of change taking place in the world. By building creativity as a skill, leaders empower themselves to identify new ideas for their business and solve problems in a unique and innovative way. Critical in a world where delivery will become very consistent as it will be delivered by “intelligent” machines.
- Critical Thinking is the skill of understanding and analysing facts, identifying what works and doesn’t work and then building strategies, visions, and plans. Critical thinking is willing to challenge, the status quo and the insights gained from the data. It requires the human ability to understand and logically deduct new from the current. In business, the data is the new gold. But data holds no value if it is not interpreted, explored, and mined to reveal critical insights that allow for informed and powerful decisions to be made. Critical thinking is logical and intensely clever. It relies on what has worked and is willing to consider what hasn’t worked and what is new. It brings diverse insights and knowledge together in original ways that enable original yet inspired answers to be revealed. Once again, necessary to set a business or team apart in a world with intense competition and me-too offerings.
- Self-Management is the art of being the best of yourself despite all the complexities you face. This skill includes elements such as being goal focussed, disciplined, confident in oneself and being open and able to navigate change constructively and successfully. This is the skill of being the best version of yourself in this fast moving and demanding world. In society, fitting in and “conforming’ has been the “acceptable way” for generations as this has allowed for delivery in an “acceptable” and “compliant” way. Self-management doesn’t require but demands that each person take responsibility for yourself and your future. Every member of a team needs to understand his/her strengths and weaknesses and the contribution they want to make. Uniqueness and commitment to being a key part of “making a difference” are going to become reasons for hiring and retaining leaders and employees.
- Social intelligence is the skill of connecting and collaborating with others. Built into this skill is listening, motivating, giving feedback, having difficult conversations, and managing group dynamics. Other people are our greatest test and our greatest pleasure and reward. In a world where menial tasks are handled by machines, the art of supporting the people in your team to think sophisticatedly, be creative, stand in their courage and self-lead as well as lead ideas, projects and innovation is one of the most critical and most human skills required. The complexity of being a socially intelligent leader will increase in priority and impact for the business. Leaders will not only be managing people with less defined and more complex tasks and responsibilities but also managing the integration of the human “magic” into the AI so that delivery becomes more and more effective and efficient. Leaders in the future of business will need to be courageous enough to take risks, make decisions and recognise when the risks and decisions were wrong so they can make the change to maintain the competitive edge and minimise the impact. Making and rectifying mistakes is a necessary fitness in the future that can only be built through strong self-management and social intelligence.
- The last skill mentioned is that of attention management. Attention management is the sophisticated art of defining the plan to achieve success. It includes prioritising and proactively being agile and making the decisions that enable the volume of tasks and activities to be completed on time and to standard, every time. The map to our business destination. Even with AI providing sophisticated planning and scheduling implementation, the ability to understand priorities, build an impactful plan, flex responsively within the plan and make difficult decisions that support delivery are human skills. They are also the skills that will enable projects and businesses to succeed.
A challenge we face is that the AI change is imminent but isn’t fully realised yet. As we prepare for this new world where AI takes care of the process driven, logical and predictable tasks, we are, to the greater extent, still responsible for these tasks. We need to find time to focus on strengthening our human talents and skills. Our skills and abilities that are uniquely human and even “magical” in their unpredictability and inspirational creativity. Only humans can dream and then build and improve and enhance achievements.
It is important to remember that humans have an insatiable need to make things better, easier, safer, and more profitable. When we optimise our human skills, we can find and lead new opportunities until they become an achievement that is built, improved, and enhanced.
I want to thank Kevin for sharing his book, his research and his insights with Leoni and I. He has beautifully reminded us of how powerful we are when we access our human talents. His book celebrates AI in how it removes the predictable and mundane. He celebrates and reminds us of how each of us has all that we need to navigate the future and thrive by being completely, vulnerably and courageously human while navigating the imminent changes.