We are beginning a new era — the age of artificial intelligence. AI is a dynamic and evolving landscape and we are just beginning to see the true extent of how it will transform our lives and the way we work. 

Top Qualities of a Strong AI Leader

  • A strategic vision for the company
  • A focus on customers and end users
  • Adaptability and the desire for continuous learning
  • Recruiting skills to attract high-quality AI talent and management skills to retain that talent.
  • Emotional intelligence to make sure AI use is human-centric

As a partner at SPMB, one of the largest retained executive search firms specializing in technology, I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformative impact of AI on business needs and learned that it takes a certain kind of leader to navigate this change. Leaders who embrace these five attributes will be able to fully realize the power of AI, driving growth and longevity for their business.

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Strategic Vision

The ability to innovate is crucial for AI success, enabling organizations to explore new possibilities, develop cutting-edge AI solutions and stay ahead of the competition. 

Leaders need to have a clear strategic vision to implement AI innovations successfully. A clear and well-defined strategic vision provides a roadmap for organizations to use AI effectively. Strategic visionaries can anticipate market trends, identify opportunities for AI integration and make informed decisions that align with the organization’s goals. 

In the age of AI, companies need a leader who can envision new use cases and approaches and dictate what initiatives need to be implemented to achieve the vision. A strategic visionary should be able to develop groundbreaking plans that will appeal to customers and build a clear and achievable strategy to roll out the new technology.


Adaptability and Continuous Learning

As AI rapidly transforms the business landscape, leaders must be able to quickly adapt to new technologies, trends and market dynamics. Successful leaders must embrace change as an opportunity, stay ahead of the innovation curve and make informed decisions in the face of uncertainty. Leaders who engage in continuous learning are well equipped to navigate the inherent uncertainties of the AI era. 

There are several ways to enhance your understanding of AI. You can get involved with the AI startup community, network with your data science/research department or deepen your research by reading news articles, literature, research papers, and reports. 

Beyond that, many leaders choose to participate in AI workshops or even take AI-related courses. If you’re looking for a more structured program and/or certification, many universities, such as MIT, Stanford, Harvard and Berkeley, as well as technology companies like Google offer AI certification programs that you can enroll in.

Those who have open minds and search for ways to improve their strategies will be able to implement technological advancements in AI faster. Leaders with a strong desire for continuous learning and an ability to make many decisions in a fast-paced environment will be better equipped to analyze data, assess risks and make informed decisions that align with their organization’s long-term goals as new AI capabilities emerge.


Customer/User Centric

Customers/users are becoming increasingly empowered by technology, and AI has opened up a giant avenue to improve lives and workflows. To remain competitive and thrive in this landscape, companies need leaders who are obsessed with end-user experience and customers’ wants, needs and pain points

Leaders who stay focused on customer interactions with products and fight for streamlined and empowering customer experiences will be able to leverage AI to drive growth effectively. Plus, AI is an amazing tool for analyzing user/customer data and generating insights on new ways to delight.


Emotional Intelligence

As AI becomes more prevalent in the workplace, companies require leaders who are emotionally intelligent. These leaders in the tech ecosystem must be capable of making informed decisions concerning developing AI products that align with human well-being and overall success. 

Moreover, to achieve success, it’s crucial to effectively communicate complex AI concepts and build inclusive AI products for diverse audiences. Therefore, companies need leaders who can communicate clearly with the market and new customers on how new products or features will impact them and their broader society. 

Leaders who take into account the goals, backgrounds and abilities of their current and/or desired customer base will be able to steer their company smoothly toward adaptation to and adoption of AI integrations and AI-enabled products.

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Recruiting and Leadership 

Leaders have always had to recruit, inspire and manage teams. However, the demand for these skills has been amplified in the current age of AI. The competition for AI talent is intense, and the pace of innovation is incredibly fast. As a result, it is imperative for leaders to possess strong management skills to effectively lead their teams to success. Leaders must network, engage and inspire with AI talent and the ecosystem. 

Once the right talent is brought on board, leaders need to foster a collaborative, flexible and motivating environment for them. Streamlining teams and encouraging collaboration is crucial because AI technologies and their applications change rapidly, and the best products must be brought to the market as soon as possible. 

Beyond that, to make this transformation successful, this new talent must bring current employees along on the AI journey and work with them to make them comfortable using and embracing AI.

AI is not just a tool or a trend; it is a powerful technology fundamentally changing how we do business. The rapid advancement of artificial intelligence presents a brand new set of challenges and opportunities for companies to traverse. The ever-changing discoveries of AI capabilities call for a strategic visionary to lead teams through this unprecedented and exciting time, an adaptable leader who engages in continuous learning, uses the customer as their north star and has the EQ to recruit and motivate a team to create meaningful and pivotal innovations.

If you are hiring a leader, assess each of these qualities in candidates to determine if they can drive success for your organization. If you are a leader, consider which of these attributes could use improvements and what steps you can take to fill in any gaps you may have.

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