Connective intelligence

How can learning and development teams maximize the impact of existing leadership programs as we accelerate into the age of AI?

The launch of ChatGPT by OpenAI on 30 November 2022 marked a pivotal moment in the digital revolution: a transition that brought the processing of unstructured data to the public, removing many of the previous programming language hurdles and systems knowledge requirements. As a result, chief HR officers have been thrust into the role of trusted navigator. They are tasked with simultaneously advising chief executives on how best to structure access to unstructured data, while upskilling human capital to execute within this new, evolving environment. 

It is the very definition of building a plane while mid-flight. “Managing these two tracks demands a strategic, forward-thinking approach, anchored in deep collaboration across functions and a keen eye on the organization’s human capital development,” as Brandon Veldman of AI advisory firm Pathfinder Ventures puts it. 

However organizations might leverage AI systems, the consensus is that they will all move to some level of a ‘co-pilot’ human/AI team model. The two expected variations are humans partnered with AI systems, which could increase the velocity of production and innovation – or a streamlined human effort backed by powerful AI systems, necessitating fewer people. Either way, people are central – so, as a recent Duke CE event identified (see Dialogue Q2, 2024) this is a vision of a human-centric future. And that means that developing people’s capabilities is key. “It is paramount to prepare the workforce for digital transformation, ensuring AI integration fosters an ecosystem where innovation, ethics and human talent prosper in unison,” notes Veldman. 

Connective Intelligence

As AI/human hybrid teams become the norm, learning and development (L&D) teams can maximize the benefit of existing leadership programs by identifying the portions that align with human-centric leadership skills and leveraging those moments for maximum future impact. To assist teams assessing current programs and integrating elements that bring in an AI conversation at pivotal moments, we introduce the Connective Intelligence Model. It is a foundational tool to be used during design and redesign conversations, or to assist in determining how well-prepared your leaders are for tomorrow’s AI challenges.

 If the full potential of AI’s promise is unlocked through human partnership, then it is leaders who will create the environment for this dynamic to flourish. The leaders who are poised for success are those who possess a skill set that marries technical knowledge with emotional intelligence. They are adept at creating collaborative environments where human creativity and AI’s efficiency enhance one another. This balanced approach is not just about adapting to change: it’s about leading the charge in a world where the intersection of humanity and technology is the new frontier for innovation
and productivity. 

  At its core, Connective Intelligence integrates three fundamental components of leadership into a cohesive blueprint for leading hybrid teams of human and artificial intelligence. It recognizes that our insights and our innate capacity for judgment, empathy and ethical reasoning, partnered with AI’s computational efficiency and data-driven insights, creates a powerful alliance. Marrying the innately human pieces with requisite leadership skillsets to develop provides a three-part approach. 

1 Analyze and evolve

Navigating the complexities of AI integration demands high-quality human intelligence (IQ), characterized by critical thinking and strategic insight. Leaders must possess a deep understanding of AI’s functionality and keep abreast of its rapid advancements, equipping them to address challenges, such as AI hallucinations or divergent decision-making paths. This knowledge is crucial for maintaining situational awareness, enabling timely interventions to correct or realign AI behaviors. The swift evolution of technology, exemplified by OpenAI’s significant improvement of GPT-4 in just six months, underscores the need for a mindset geared towards continuous learning and adaptability. By staying informed about the latest developments and embracing an agile approach, leaders can ensure their strategies remain relevant and effective in the fast-paced world of AI. 

Focus on: AI literacy, data interpretation and analysis, logical reasoning, agility in learning and adaptation, growth mindset development, complex problem-solving, critical evaluation and decision making, and also
innovative thinking.

2 Empower

We are already witnessing transformative robotic surgery systems and revolutionary drug discoveries driven by AI/human teams, illustrating the importance of creating environments that embrace innovation to fully leverage the power of AI/Human connective efforts. Integral to creating these environments are leaders who possess emotional intelligence (EQ) which includes empathetic communication, effective conflict resolution, and the ability to inspire. Enabling leaders to construct teams deeply connected to a purpose that resonates on a personal level gives them the power to guide rapid decision-making and fosters a culture that encourages experimentation. Emotionally intelligent leaders balance the vast capabilities of AI with the core human attributes of creativity, collaboration and ethical responsibility, ensuring that technological progress amplifies rather than diminishes organization values.

Focus on: Empathetic communication, self-awareness, inspirational leadership, conflict resolution, as well as adaptive leadership. 

3 Unify

Leaders of organizations recognize AI’s indispensability for their future and need to move fast to integrate its capabilities. However, the AI space is fraught with regulatory voids and potential legal entanglements, making ethical, stakeholder-focused leadership an imperative. Leaders with a strong Decency Quotient (DQ) make decisions that ensure the collaboration between human and AI teams reflects the core identity and values of the organization. Upskilling leaders in areas that support a strong DQ ensures that the integration of AI within your organization drives financial success while prioritizing human capital. This approach emphasizes the creation of systems that are equitable, authentic to the organizational purpose, and resonate with all stakeholders. 

Focus on: Ethical decision making, cultural sensitivity and awareness, inclusive strategy formulation, stakeholder engagement.  

The Connective Intelligence Model offers a comprehensive foundational framework for leaders of hybrid AI/human teams who must prioritize and enhance the human element. It emphasizes the importance of a deep understanding of AI, heightened emotional intelligence, and a commitment to ethical inclusivity and establishing a new paradigm for leadership. By magnifying these skills in tomorrow’s leaders, CHROs and L&D teams can cultivate a workplace culture that is innovative and empathetic, ensuring that technology complements and elevates the human experience. 

David Welsh is regional managing director, North America, and Kirsten Bischoff is a business development specialist, at Duke Corporate Education.