Finding our humanness in a digital storm 

04.01.18

Advancements in technology have both improved and disrupted our lives. They have motivated how we connect with one another (Whatsapp), how we run our daily affairs (skype) and the way in which we do business (email). For decades, businesses have used technology to make better products and reduce business costs. Now, AI systems are being designed and implemented to do more than simply answer search questions. They can also manage entire systems, improve the operational efficiency of organisations and take appropriate action. So, the question that remains is – what can’t they do?

A double-edged sword

Although daunting, it is important to acknowledge that the benefits of tech are plentiful. The ability of AI to help businesses move faster and more efficiently, replacing menial and time-consuming tasks, gives organisations the freedom to innovate and explore their creativity. Despite these pros, it’s scary to consider the social and personal repercussions of technology on our lives — and particularly for our careers. As machine learning continues to grow, we all need to develop new skills to distinguish ourselves. This is especially true for leadership. The most successful leaders will be those who understand that navigating a technological world where information is overwhelmingly abundant, requires a strong foundation of the self. It requires dedicated inner work to ensure they don’t lose sight of what matters most – their purpose and their people.

Human to human

The most equipped leaders will be those who recognize their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to emotional intelligence and how to leverage these to enable those around them to perform and excel. Leaders of the future will need to invest in developing their EQ, by questioning what is important in their roles and how they relate to others. While machines may replace much of the more analytical tasks, the job to inspire others will remain relevant to humans and fundamental to the success of an organisation. This will include the ability to negotiate fairly, manage our emotions, encourage creativity and put ourselves in others’ shoes – employees, customers and stakeholders, alike.

The advent of technology should not be seen as the end of the world, but rather as the beginning of an era where people are the drivers of organisational change and development. What we can do better than any machine out there is deeply ingrained in our sense of self and is inherent in our understanding of those around us and how we connect with them. This capability to relate to others is the key differentiator between people and AI. As leaders begin to invest in and nurture these abilities the same way that they would for more technical aspects of their careers, they leverage the power of being human and pave the way for a more compassionate society. In a world that is increasingly digitized and reliant on technology to progress, the need to come back to our humanity – our understanding, relatability and sensitivity – has never been more important. It is today’s thought leaders, who have the vision to pave the way.

As leaders, what are you doing to inspire more humanness within your business?