Managing Leadership by Bot

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Two of the essential objects of employee training include the development management and leadership skills. As noted from our textbook, management development is ‘complex’ and leadership qualities are those which are meant to ‘inspire others’. For the lucky few, it may appear that their management and leadership skills come naturally. For most people taking on the role of supervisor or boss, these skills need to be nurtured and honed in order to assume the characteristics of an effective leader.

Traditional management training programs have provided the context and support for this type of development in the past. We do not live or work in traditional times any more. With the increasing influence of artificial intelligence in the workplace, management and leadership training can now be delivered directly to employees on the job through their personal technical devices.

The influence of leadership apps, such as ‘Coach Amanda’ and ‘Humu’, are explored in a recent article posted in The Wall Street Journal.

Click here to read the article.

As outlined in the article, these types of coaching apps provide prompts or ‘nudges’ to evoke constructive leadership behaviour. The apps are designed to give feedback and repeated reminders of appropriate supervisory or leadership behaviour. On the positive side, this kind of prompting does provide guidance from a neutral space. Most employees are not comfortable telling their direct supervisor something negative about their behaviour that needs to change. Supervisors have often been promoted into their new roles, with little guidance or direction when needing to deal with day-to-day challenges. A personalized and direct coaching app may offer an alternative to what would otherwise be a difficult conversation to have with one’s boss, or (as is usually the case) the negative behaviours for a new supervisor are just not addressed at all.

The fact that a prompt provided by artificial intelligence (AI) is needed in order change human behaviour is more than a bit ironic and, as the article suggests, just a little bit creepy. No matter what one’s perspective on the influence of AI may be, the reality is that it is here to stay and our working world has changed, for better or for worse.

Let’s make sure we program the apps for the better.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Based on your own internet search, how many leadership coaching apps are you able to source?
  2. How does an app, such as ‘Coach Amanda’, influence management development?
  3. Would you use a coaching app for your own leadership development? Explain your rationale.
  4. How does ‘micro-learning’ influence on the job management development in a positive way?

Train the Management Brain

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There is a saying that effective leaders are born and not made. Why then do most organizations implement management training programs in order to support and promote leadership development?

It may be that there is something to be gained from ongoing leadership training, especially in the area of skill development for emotional intelligence. Among the many practical and professional requirements that are expected from individuals in managerial roles, most organizations expect their leaders to connect with, shape and motive others in positive ways. This cannot happen if the person in the leadership role does not know how to interact with others in an emotionally intelligent way.

Dr. Travis Bradbury is the co-author of ‘Emotional Intelligence 2.0’. He has provided a very good synopsis of the benefits of training for emotional intelligence in a recent article posted on the HuffPost website.

Click here to read the article.

While not specifically aimed at management development, Dr. Bradbury’s synopsis provides interesting statistical evidence that promotes this particular need for leadership training. Through the development of their emotional intelligence skills, average performers are able to see significant improvements in their level of performance and, correspondingly, ongoing increases in their level of monetary rewards.

It is ironic that emotional intelligence is not about the development of feelings. Instead, as Dr. Bradbury explains, emotional intelligence results from training the brain to ensure that we build effective ‘in-brain’ communication through the science of neuro-plasticity.  We can exercise our brains to make new and better connections between our rational and emotional brain centres. Training our brains result in higher levels of emotional intelligence. Higher levels of emotional intelligence result in leadership success.

Discussion Questions:

  1. In your opinion, what is the link between emotional intelligence and leadership success?
  2. Identify how a management development program can be implemented through the use of training for emotional intelligence.
  3. If your employer told you that you had to attend an emotional intelligence training program, how would you respond? Explain your reaction.