Career Skills

An AI’s Advice on Developing Leadership Skills

By Julian Mercer

As an executive and manager in the twilight of a 30+ year career, I have enjoyed sharing my knowledge and experience with others as a writer. Part of being effective in your job, whatever it may be, is to stay on top of technology trends, and so I’ve been experimenting with ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence beta based on the OpenAI.com platform

Since much of my communications focus is on leadership and management, I started out by asking a simple question: Can you provide me with some useful tips on developing leadership skills?

The following is ChatGPT’s response:

Understand what it means to be a leader. Leadership is about more than just having a job title or being in charge of a team. It’s about inspiring and motivating others to work towards a common goal and being able to communicate a clear vision and strategy.

Be willing to take risks and make decisions. Leaders are often called upon to make difficult decisions, and sometimes those decisions involve taking risks. It’s important to be willing to make decisions and to stand by them, even if they don’t always turn out as planned.

Focus on developing your communication skills. Effective leaders are able to communicate clearly and concisely, both in writing and in person. This means being able to listen to others, to provide constructive feedback, and to present information in a way that is easy for others to understand.

Be open to feedback and willing to learn. No one is perfect, and even the best leaders have room for improvement. It’s important to be open to feedback from others and to be willing to learn from your mistakes. This means being willing to listen to others and to take their perspectives into account when making decisions.

Practice empathy and emotional intelligence. Being able to understand and relate to others is a key part of being a good leader. This means being able to recognize and understand the emotions of those around you, and to use that understanding to guide your decisions and actions.

Of course, these are just a few suggestions, and there are many other ways to develop leadership skills. The most important thing is to be willing to learn and to always strive to improve.

The ChatGPT response makes the same points I would emphasize if writing on the same topic, with the added virtue of being more concise than my typical offering, making it easier to digest. The machines have won, it seems, at least with respect to generating credible written advice. The challenge, as always, is applying that advice to real life.

One limitation to ChatGPT is that it is not linked to the Internet as a source of data but relies on a body of information collected before 2021. So it is not able to speculate on future trends in leadership development. Or is it?

I tested that assumption by asking the question, what new trends are changing the development of leadership skills? This was the response:

One of the key trends that is changing the development of leadership skills is the increasing emphasis on emotional intelligence and empathy. In the past, leadership was often seen as being more about technical skills and expertise, but today there is a growing recognition of the importance of being able to understand and relate to others. This has led to a focus on developing skills such as empathy, emotional intelligence, and communication, which are seen as essential for effective leadership.

Another trend that is changing the development of leadership skills is the increasing use of technology and automation. As technology continues to advance, many tasks and processes that were once performed by humans are being automated, which means that leaders need to be able to adapt and to develop new skills in order to stay relevant. This is leading to a greater emphasis on developing skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity, which are seen as essential for leaders who want to stay ahead of the curve.

Finally, the increasing pace of change and uncertainty in the business world is also having an impact on the development of leadership skills. In this environment, leaders need to be able to adapt quickly and to be able to make decisions with incomplete information. This is leading to a focus on developing skills such as adaptability, resilience, and strategic thinking, which are seen as essential for leaders who want to succeed in this dynamic environment.

Again, right on point and good advice.

But it occurred to me a question about trends is not the same as asking ChatGPT to make a prediction about an uncertain future, so I asked ChatGPT if it could predict the future of leadership development, and got this response:

I’m sorry, but I am not able to predict the future. As a large language model trained by OpenAI, I am not able to access external information or to browse the internet. I can only provide answers based on the information I have been trained on, which includes general knowledge about a wide variety of topics. My ability to answer questions is limited to what I have been trained on, and I do not have the ability to make predictions or to provide information on events that have not yet occurred.

So it seems that there is still room for humans who can take information leavened with experience and apply it to predicting future opportunities and challenges and the direction that things are headed. At least until AI is trained on predictive skills (which I’m sure is a work in progress). Which prompted one final question, asking ChatGPT if it could provide any tips for developing predictive skills:

Start by gathering as much information as possible. The more information you have about a situation, the better you will be able to make predictions. This means doing research, gathering data, and seeking out different perspectives and viewpoints.

Look for patterns and trends. Many predictions are based on identifying patterns and trends in data or in the behavior of people or systems. By looking for these patterns, you can often make educated guesses about what is likely to happen in the future.

Consider different scenarios. When making predictions, it can be helpful to consider a range of different scenarios and to think about how each one might play out. This can help you to identify potential risks and opportunities and to make more informed decisions.

Be open to new information and be willing to change your predictions. The world is constantly changing, and new information can sometimes alter the course of events. It’s important to be open to new information and to be willing to revise your predictions if necessary.

Practice, practice, practice. As with any skill, the more you practice, the better you will become at making predictions. So, don’t be afraid to try your hand at making predictions, even if you don’t always get it right. Over time, you will develop your skills and become better at making accurate predictions.

More sage advice from an AI. Which leaves me pondering, what could I do to make that advice better, in terms of content, delivery or application. Not a bad question for an aspiring writer concerned about future AI-based competitors to ask.

Julian Mercer

Julian Mercer is a semi-retired executive in the technology sector, with more than 30 years’ experience as a leader, manager, consultant, and teacher.

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One Comment

  1. Julian, what a fantastic idea for an article! With AI being such a hot topic, it’s really interesting to hear the output from ChatGPT on leadership skills and development. Thank you for sharing this!

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