AI and EI, a great combo

AI and EI, a great combo

The weight of information available and the mountain of analytics potentially to hand will change the C-suite’s requirements and behaviour more than we have yet imagined. For the past three decades business has struggled to prevent EI getting a serious hold on how companies are run. The attitude was summed up for me twenty years ago by a friend who has built a very successful business “Too touchy-feely” was his dismissal of Emotional Intelligence. Residual disciplines from the military plus a Calvinistic view of relationships between master and worker has slowed the process of cooperation. But ‘straight down the line’ could not be tenable forever. My friend has now changed his mind.

AI threatens because it is thought to make many redundant. It will certainly do that. It will also open up new jobs of a somewhat different nature. It is for these that the young must be prepared. They must also learn that adaptability is not superficiality and that there can be several careers within one lifetime – even at the present restrictive 100-year limit.

The martial view of organisation declined when people began to get richer and the variety of jobs they could apply for grew. Choice is a sure-fire creator of attitudes about independence. As all negotiators know, it isn’t the hard facts that win a deal. It is their combination with the misnamed ‘softer’ feelings about personality, face, fluency and an ability to read people correctly that decide the outcome. Education is now more about assessing situations than knowing the price of potatoes. What should we do to enhance the judgment of the young?

First, it is essential to get the concept of wisdom accepted and learnt by the next generation of workers. When societies were largely agricultural there was time to contemplate our lives, what they were for and why. That bred amazing wisdom as I discovered in my youth when working  alongside older, sometimes very old, farm labourers. Their ability to run big businesses may have been in question but the purpose of big business and the duties of those running it were never doubted by them. If we get the young to ask “why” all the time we will leave them better equipped to run the new world we are entering.

Second, the level of understanding technology required to be a leader anywhere is something we must study more carefully. Leaders do not – and should not – know every nitty gritty detail of their business but some things they must know by drilling down to the core. Knowing what to know and what it is not necessary to know was always important. Today it is critical. The British Navy have the most expensive aircraft carrier ever built lying almost useless because they don’t have the planes to fly from it. But the Russians do. Someone at the top didn’t think about what was going on.

Third, a knowledge of how we assess people to work with us and how we help them to be most productive. This is evolving all the time. It needs more attention than current HR departments are equipped or able to provide. The young must learn a sound basis for dealing with people so that robots don’t take control. They must also learn to deal with robots and with the Artificial Intelligence planted in them. Mastery always involves being better equipped than those who work for you.

In the space of a very few years we have come to recognise that technology is not a threat but an opportunity. No doubt there will be recurrences of concern about its potential for bad as well as good. But the common enemy to unite us has manifested itself well and truly in the past few months. Even the most right-wing bigot cannot now deny climate damage. We need all the tools we can find to combat that.

If we combine our Emotional Intelligence with technology’s ability to replicate our intelligence we will have a powerful support for the future of our species and of the planet we inhabit.

And our great grandchildren will enjoy a life we can only dream of.