6 Essential AI Skills for Leaders & 5 Must-Take Actions​

6 Essential AI Skills for Leaders and 5 Must Take Actions

6 Essential AI Skills for Leaders
& 5 Must-Take Actions

There are countless stories of companies that have failed to change in pivotal moments of time and it cost them the whole business. Stories like Blockbuster failing to adjust their brick-and-mortar business model to an online one, or Kodak continuing to focus on film rather than fully capitalizing on the digital photography market are well-known examples of what happens when leaders don’t embrace new technology. The era of artificial intelligence (AI) and generative AI (GenAI) that we are living in today is no different.
As a leader in the rapidly evolving landscape of workplace technology, you are faced with the unique challenge of integrating GenAI into your team and processes. Failing to see where opportunities may be hiding could result in potentially missing the mark when it comes to keeping up with external competition and internal expectations.

In this blog post, we are going to cover the six essential AI skills you need as a leader in order to stay competitive and drive value for your organization.

6 Essential AI Skills for Leaders

 Skill #1: Mastering the Basics of AI
“You need to be able to communicate in a succinct and sophisticated way about AI to your stakeholders and to your team members.”
In today’s fast-paced world, a solid grasp of AI fundamentals is not just beneficial for you—it’s essential for any leader looking to steer their team towards success.
Why? Because understanding AI, machine learning, and the trajectory of technological advancements empowers you to make decisions that keep your organization at the forefront of innovation. It’s about more than just knowing the buzzwords; it’s about grasping the principles that drive AI and being able to break down these complex ideas in a way that’s accessible and actionable for your team.
As a leader, your role involves not just staying updated with the current trends and applications of AI but also anticipating where technology is headed. This foresight enables you to prepare your team for the future, ensuring that everyone is ready and equipped to adapt to new challenges and opportunities that AI brings to the table.
Navigating the AI landscape with confidence and clarity will set you apart as a leader. It’s about embracing the transformative power of AI to not only enhance your leadership but also to inspire your team to explore, innovate, and excel in an ever-evolving digital world.
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Skill #2: Navigating Ethical Considerations and Risks

“Really understand the issue around racial biases, gender biases, and any other biases that can negatively impact our decision-making.”
As the realm of GenAI continues to expand, it’s important that you keep the ethical compass in hand. Recognizing and mitigating the biases that GenAI systems can inherit is not just a responsibility but a cornerstone of ethical leadership in the digital age.
It’s about understanding the power and potential risks of GenAI and developing strategies to ensure your decisions and processes are not only efficient but equitable. This awareness extends beyond the immediate—anticipating the ethical challenges and biases that GenAI brings to the table is a critical part of your role.
Thinking ten steps ahead is not just strategic; it’s a necessity. This foresight allows you to proactively address potential pitfalls, ensuring your teams and organizations not only thrive but do so with integrity and societal alignment.
As you craft policies and strategies for the future, your goal is to create an environment where technology serves as a force for good, aligning with broader societal values and expectations. Understanding the nuances around biases—racial, gender, or otherwise—is key to ensuring your leadership not only advances your organizational goals but does so with a profound respect for the ethical implications of your digital decisions.

Skill #3: Strategic and Critical Thinking

“The ability to regularly build in strategic thinking and to do this well is one of those deciding factors on who, which leaders, which teams will win, and which ones will be left behind or will struggle through it all.”
In the whirlwind of technological evolution, leaders who can weave strategic vision and critical insight into the fabric of AI integration are the ones who truly set their organizations apart. It’s about seeing beyond the horizon—envisioning how AI can not only streamline your processes and enhance your operational efficiency but also significantly uplift the value you deliver to your clients. This foresight is what can place you leaps and bounds ahead in the competitive dance.
However, this strategic prowess isn’t just about having a keen eye on the future. It’s equally about grounding yourself in the present, distinguishing between fleeting fads and genuine, impactful trends. It demands from you a nuanced understanding of AI—recognizing where its adoption can serve as a true boon versus where caution must be exercised. This discernment ensures that your journey toward technological transformation is both ambitious and anchored in reality.
But let’s not forget, at the heart of successful leadership lies the human touch. As you chart your course through the AI landscape, your strategies must resonate with this truth, ensuring that your technological advancements bolster, rather than eclipse, the human element that is so vital to your success.
In a nutshell, leadership in the age of AI calls for a delicate balance—embracing the vast potential of technological advancements while remaining steadfastly committed to the values and ethics that define you. By embedding strategic and critical thinking into the DNA of your leadership, you not only navigate the complexities of AI but do so in a manner that is reflective, responsible, and profoundly human.

Skill #4: Change Leadership

“Change leadership means to be able to lead your team through these change processes. And that starts with addressing the fears that employees have about losing their jobs, or not being able to deliver value anymore, or having to be reeducated and reskilled.”
As AI transforms the workplace, leaders must skillfully guide their teams through uncertainty. Change leadership goes beyond bracing for AI-induced shifts; it’s about thoroughly preparing your team for the journey ahead, addressing concerns about job security, and fostering the development of new competencies to meet future demands.
Effective change management requires a deep understanding of your employees’ apprehensions and a well-crafted plan for navigating AI-driven transformations. It calls for leading with empathy, recognizing that each situation is unique and demands a tailored approach. Your mission as a leader is to harness these winds of change, steering with a vision that anticipates challenges and sees opportunities beyond them.
By communicating a clear vision and turning change into a catalyst for growth, you can make the AI transition not just manageable but truly empowering. This intentional leadership, coupled with a profound commitment to your team’s well-being, helps everyone emerge stronger and more cohesive. Ultimately, change leadership in the AI era is about equipping your team to confidently embrace the vast possibilities that lie ahead, transforming potential disruption into a journey of collective advancement.

Skill #5: Team Development

“How you position your team, or let’s say the bus, who do you put on which seat and then who do you reskill or develop further to ensure that your team will be needed and will drive high value into the future?”
Imagine you are working on a project, and you have to fill a bus with the perfect people to get it to the finish line—let’s call it your destination. Your job, as the leader, is to select the right people with the right skills to get on the bus. Then, you need to decide how you will get to the destination, taking any detours or making any course corrections along the way.
Building your team is no different. It is crucial to actively hire, position, and develop teams that align with future skill sets. As a leader, you must envision and act on your team’s future needs to ensure continued growth and value creation.
As you step into the future, the blueprint for building and nurturing your team becomes increasingly intertwined with anticipating the skills that tomorrow demands. This is where the art of leadership truly shines – in the ability to not just react to change but to architect it.
Proactively scouting, positioning, and cultivating talent that meets the emerging skill landscape is more than a task; it’s a mission. It’s your prerogative to envision and manifest your team’s future needs.
But this journey of team development isn’t a solo venture. It’s a collaborative expedition where you, as the leader, pave the path for continued learning, adaptability, and strategic foresight. It’s about laying the foundation today for the skills that will be the keystones of tomorrow, ensuring that your team is prepared for the unfolding new skill needs in your organization.

Skill #6: Project Management

In the AI era, project management goes beyond guiding a project from start to finish. It’s about identifying valuable opportunities, analyzing their potential return on investment, and convincingly gaining support from key stakeholders.
As a leader, you need to see how AI can enhance the value you provide to clients and improve your market position. This requires looking past the hype to focus on trends that truly matter. Your goal is to develop strategies that are both innovative and realistic, aiming for concrete results.
Effective communication is crucial. You must ensure everyone understands and supports the project, from team members to decision-makers. This involves listening to concerns about AI’s impact and transforming those worries into enthusiasm for new possibilities.
Project management, in this context, is about uniting people around a shared vision of the future. It’s not just about the technology; it’s about fostering collaboration to create something meaningful. Your role is to facilitate clear discussions, create solid plans, and guide their execution with confidence and care.
For more information about how your role may be impacted by GenAI, check out episode 210 of The Manager Track podcast: Your Future Role (With AI)
Now that we’ve outlined the six essential AI skills you need as a leader, what action steps can you take to integrate them into your workplace to position yourself and your team for future success? Here are the five proactive action steps we recommend for an AI-Integrated Workplace.

5 Proactive Fast Action Steps for An AI-Integrated Workplace

Action Step #1. Clarify The AI Policy

Articulate and establish clear AI policies within your team, defining it’s usage, guidelines, and boundaries to ensure responsible and effective integration of AI tools. This includes addressing questions like, “What is it ok to use AI for?” “How can AI be used and not used?” “What are the do’s and don’ts as it relates to using AI tools?”

Action Step #2. Engage with AI Committees

Join or create AI committees within your organization or team to foster dedicated leadership and collaboration focused on driving AI-related initiatives and discussions.

Action Step #3. Foster Brainstorming and Planning

Host ongoing brainstorming sessions to discuss and plan how to leverage AI in specific tasks, workflows, and risk assessments. Engage your team in these discussions to help identify actionable insights and inform policy deliberations.

Action Step #4. Engage Stakeholders in Conversations

Engage in consistent dialogue with stakeholders about the impact of AI on your respective domains and industries allows leaders to gain valuable insights and align strategies with broader organizational goals.

Action Step #5. Invest in Personal AI Training

Proactively invest in your own training to enhance your AI fluency and acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to lead effectively in an AI-integrated environment.
“Invest in your own training, educate yourself, and learn and fill any of the gaps that you may detect as it relates to the six skills we talked about earlier and beyond as it specifically applies to maybe the tools or the technology that your company is using or that you’re thinking of introducing.”
For more ideas on how leaders are using AI, check out episode 179: Developing AI-Enabled Leaders: A Panel Discussion
Reflecting on these insights and integrating them into leadership practice will ensure that you are not merely a reactive participant in the AI revolution but rather a proactive architect of an AI-empowered workplace culture, setting an example for the rest of the organization to follow.
By addressing the critical need for AI fluency, organizations can adopt a proactive stance in preparing themselves and their teams for the inevitable impact of AI on the workplace. You can choose to do this alone, figuring it out as you go, or you can set yourself up for optimal success by getting the support you need that will help you not just keep up with the GenAI landscape but optimize it for maximum benefits for you and your team by taking advantage of our GenAI programs at Archova.
Check Out These Additional Resources:
Archova’s “AI-Fluency for Leaders” program is a 5-week comprehensive program designed to provide leaders with the AI acumen they need to set strategy, mitigate risks, and lead effectively and with confidence in a time of rapid AI-driven change.
Archova’s “Navigating AI at Work” workshop is designed to help leaders turn AI concepts into strategic advantages, ensuring they and their teams are not just participants but frontrunners in the AI revolution.
As a leader, understanding and harnessing the power of GenAI is not just an advantage – it’s a necessity. Download Archova’s “GenAI Quick-Start Guide for Leaders” to help you get started as you step into GenAI in the context of your leadership and management role.
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