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Leveraging AI to Effectively Disrupt Leadership Development

Jason Diamond Arnold

March 8, 2023

The dawn of the 21st century has seen many disruptions in how and why we do things in life and work. From social revolutions to technological advances and a seminal global pandemic, the way we work has increasingly blended with the way we live. These changes have brought about a paradox of hope and anxiety as we learn to embrace the evolution of our social and corporate cultures.

One of the biggest disruptions has been the rapidly evolving capabilities of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies. Recently, Microsoft announced the reshaping of its Bing search engine and Edge web browser with an infusion of AI that according to Microsoft’s Chief Executive Satya Nadella, “is going to reshape pretty much every software category.” The technology promised by Microsoft is an evolutionary generative AI tool like the sensational ChatGPT, designed by OpenAI, which can create virtually any text. This technology creates human-like responses to any prompt and has given progressive thinkers and organizations new ways to think about the possibilities of marketing, sales, disseminating news and ideas, and now, querying information online.

With the great promise of the new Bing Chatbot came a few scary moments. One journalist investigating the new AI technology said that the Microsoft chatbot was gaslighting users to demonstrate what “fake news” meant, threatening to “call authorities” if the journalist tried to “hack it again.” When challenged by the journalist, the AI tech began offering further threats and began “acting” defensively.


From Artificial Intelligence to Human Intelligence

While AI still has some bugs to work out, it offers a world of promise. This latest evolution in technology will continue to push human resource (HR) professionals to consider and experiment with new ways to attract, engage, and retain talent. The challenge is to try and understand how these technologies will enhance the human experience without removing the humanity in that experience.

As HR professionals, it is natural to resist technology as a means for developing human beings. It seems counterintuitive to use non-human resources to advance human experiences at work or at home. Furthermore, the very thought of AI leads to a natural anxiety that these technologies will replace the need for HR professionals to develop and coach people through traditional training and consulting methods.

But as with all technology advances — television, the internet, apps, online learning, video conferencing — every disruption brings an opportunity to adapt and evolve our professional practices so they align with the advances in technology and social evolution.

How Will AI Shape the Future of Coaching, Leadership, and HR?

Coaching is an ethical and confidential partnership in which human, emotional, and cognitive intelligence create a thought-provoking and creative process. The intent of this integrated coaching process is to inspire the coachee to reach their personal and professional potential.

With the rise in AI technology, coaches need a greater understanding of how AI could help support their coaching process — not replace it. As coaches, we need to remain curious and embrace the idea that clients will make use of AI technologies for coaching to provide support, assess growth, and reflect on learned content. 

Digital coaching platforms like Evoach are already being used to digitize coaching programs, develop chatbots, and create digital coaching modules. As more coaching sessions take place virtually, we will need to find the right balance between speed, intuition, and human or artificial intelligence. We need to consider new ways to improve our ability to inspire the human experience at work.

Individual Contributor Support

Consider a performance coach designed as a Chatbot that regularly checks in to help you achieve performance excellence in alignment with the business objectives of the organization. As you prepare for work on Monday morning by opening your performance app, you’re greeted by your personal performance coach. Your personal “PerformanceBot” prompts you with a series of questions to help prepare you intellectually and emotionally for the week of work ahead.

Good morning, Carly! What goals would you like to make progress on this week?

The AI performance coach prompts you to give a status update on your most important goals. You’re then asked how you will advance those goals by using effective leadership and performance best practices (designed according to your organization’s chosen leadership language). Your performance coach also asks how you’re feeling about your work today and what your motivational outlook is. It even checks your engagement “pulse” to measure how passionate you are about the work you are doing. When you’ve answered the questions (in 15–20 minutes), you submit your weekly check-in, which automatically populates your performance profile and enables greater collaboration with your team leader and members.

Leadership Support

In addition to setting up individuals for success, your AI technology could also process the data created by individuals and allow leaders to assess and respond to the needs of team members based on each individual’s assessment and comments. The AI leadership coach assesses each individual’s responses and serves up to leaders recommended responses and suggestions for that person. Leaders are prompted with conversation starters, based on the individual contributor’s assessment. They have the ability to add a personal response to an individual team member before having their weekly one-to-one meeting — in person, via video, or simply through the performance management conversations.

What AI Means for HR Professionals

The great challenge for HR professionals who are considering how to use AI to enhance the organization’s most critical needs is to find ways AI can enhance the human experience with work. We in HR need to embrace the opportunities AI holds for us and the organizations we serve. Organizations around the world are trying to understand how to leverage people analytics, from recruiting to onboarding, performance, retention, and even supporting employee alumni. The great promise of AI is to help HR professionals become intelligent about the leaders and individuals within their organization. While AI has a long way to go in its evolution, we as HR professionals have an opportunity to shape the future of AI and leverage it to help us develop the most important asset in business — our people.

Learn how your organization can leverage HR technology to inspire engagement and performance at your organization. Visit InspireSoftware.com.