top of page

Generative AI:A Metaphor For Leadership

How can leaders navigate transformation in an ever more volatile environment?


Staying competitive in times of rapidly changing realities is no easy feat. Organizations must continuously adapt. Does transformative success lie at the intersection of leadership and Generative AI (GenAI)?


We already use GenAI to help tackle complex problems and grow as companies. Similarly, leaders can create generative intelligence in their organizations to navigate change. To be in the good books with our customers (product), shareholders (profit), and the environment (planet), leadership cannot rest on its laurels. Leaders, in particular CEOs, are ideally positioned to shape a culture of high performance and responsiveness. Using GenAI as a metaphor, we explain how leaders can learn, reflect, and adapt their communication and role modeling to achieve the outcomes they desire.


Heraclitus’s old adage, “change is the only constant” is, well, old. What’s new, surprising even, is that over 70% of change efforts fail. The reasons range from change resistance to lack of management support, but there is much more to it.


Why is real change so hard to achieve? One pitfall is that we tend to focus on tangible change elements like structure, process, policy, target operating model, and way of working. As important as these elements are, ironically, the less tangible elements like vision, mindset, purpose, relationships, values, and culture are the most powerful and sustainable in any change effort. Another pitfall is a lack of real leadership capability to drive business transformation. This deficiency is common, despite all the available leadership literature and development programs. Knowing what leadership style to adopt, especially across different contexts, can be confusing at best, so some forgiveness is in order. There is no one recipe for leadership success. But if improving change management is the goal, what do we expect from leaders?

Senior Manager Transformation Beverly Fuller standing behind counter top

Beverly Fuller is Senior Manager Transformation at IG&H. She is an Organizational Psychologist with a

Masters in Business Administration. As a professional coach and business agility expert, she is passionate about analyzing and shaping mindsets and human behavior. She specializes in optimizing team and leadership performance in the context of organizational transformation and is a strong advocate for “people over process”.


When using a GenAI chatbot, a poorly written prompt leaves too much room for interpretation; the results run awry. Have you ever typed in a prompt you thought was clear and received the strangest results? Just as prompt quality determines whether you get the desired output, the quality of a leader's prompts influences the behavioral and performance response of individuals and teams. If leaders are unclear about the organizational strategy and how to deliver on it, people are unlikely to live up to leaders' expectations. Instead, leaders get a mix of misaligned behaviors and responses.


After almost a year and a half of experimenting with GenAI, we see a shared resemblance in best practices for prompt creation and leadership interaction. Effective prompts are clear in the output they seek and often phrased as a question. In addition, the more you question GenAI, the better its answers will be. It’s no good sitting back waiting and twiddling your thumbs after prompting, only to settle for the first (average) response. Rather, leaders should observe the response content and quality, tweaking the prompt as needed.


The behavioral and performance response of individuals and teams depends largely on the leader and the quality of his or her prompts.


AI chatbots use large language models (LLMs) by learning from large datasets and refining their outputs through iterative training processes. Just as LLMs are trained over time, leaders can fine-tune their behaviors and messages based on the sentiment and action in response from people and teams. Let’s call these “leadership language models”.


Communication is key in any relationship, and this dynamic is like an ongoing dialogue where one must continually refine the conversation. Leaders should regularly revisit their leadership language, both verbal and non-verbal, based on feedback. For example, a production context requires prompts that value optimization and efficiency. In contrast, knowledge-based industries focus on innovative product and service development, and people need to work with productive and creative freedom. Therefore, they require a different prompt. The right prompt will not involve directing, predicting and controlling. Instead, it should create an environment conducive to experimentation, risk-taking and getting out of one’s comfort zone – vital qualities in complex (digital) transformations.


Automation often works best when combined with human intelligence. Similarly, the organizational system works most effectively when combined with leadership intelligence. The human-AI interface teaches us that leaders need to be persistent in training the organization as a system to improve the quality of its responses. Leaders should experiment by adapting to the strengths and weaknesses of the system, learn from the responses they get, recognize when they are wrong and optimize along the way. This is “generative leadership intelligence”, which if done well makes you an exceptional leader.


Exceptional leaders leverage “Generative Leadership Intelligence” and “Leadership Language Models” to harness the creative capacity of people and unleash their potential.


When the complexity of our business challenges outgrows the comprehension of human intelligence, we must work smarter. The complexity of (digital) transformations requires us to also use generative intelligence. Drawing the parallel between GenAI and leadership, we see that leaders have a crucial role to play. They must highlight the more powerful and sustaining human elements of organizational change. By getting their prompts right, taking on generative and adaptive behaviors, and applying tailored leadership language and behavioral role modeling, they can build an organizational culture of ownership, autonomy, and continuous learning while offering the psychological safety to take risks, experiment and innovate.

 

Leaders are ideally positioned to shape the organizational system. They can leverage talent and build the culture to successfully execute their strategy and achieve sustainable change through adaptive behavioral role modeling and communication. They should not settle for an average response but continue to refine and improve their ask. This requires self-awareness, self-reflection and persistence.


Key takeaways

 

1.       Sustained change stems mostly from the less tangible (human) elements

2.       You can train the model – your organizational system

3.       Persistence and continuous refinement are vital


Leaders are ideally positioned to shape the organizational system. They can leverage talent and build the culture to successfully execute their strategy and achieve sustainable change through adaptive behavioral role modeling and communication. They should not settle for an average response but continue to refine and improve their ask. This requires self-awareness, self-reflection and persistence. 


Want to know more about how leaders can build high-performing teams? Get in touch:


portrait photo Beverly Fuller

Beverly Fuller

Senior Manager Transformation

T: +31 618745742

Comentarios


bottom of page