Leadership Skills

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Every Leader’s Guide to the Ethics of AI

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  • Read Time: 9 min 

As artificial intelligence-enabled products and services enter our everyday lives, there’s a big gap between how AI can be used and how it should be used. A 2018 Deloitte survey of AI-aware executives found that 32% ranked ethical issues as one of the top three risks of AI, but most companies don’t yet have specific approaches to grapple with the challenges. Here, we list the seven actions that leaders of AI-oriented companies — regardless of their industry — should consider taking.

The Enabling Power of Trust

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  • Read Time: 8 min 

Examining skill sets and mind-sets will help leaders understand what it means to be a leader in the digital economy. This will include requirements such as changing mastery, executing excellence, nurturing relationships, and, notably, building a culture of radical trust.

Why Teams Should Record Individual Expectations

To improve decision quality, risk management, and leadership development, organizations and teams should record individual expectations when making big group decisions. That may sound like a tall order, especially for a large organization. But interactive dashboards can make the process of gathering and analyzing everyone’s input much less cumbersome, and the benefits of doing so outweigh the costs.

Using Artificial Intelligence to Promote Diversity

What if, instead of perpetuating harmful biases, AI helped us overcome them? What if our systems were taught to ignore data about race, gender, sexual orientation, and other characteristics that aren’t relevant to the decisions at hand? They can do all that — with guidance from the human experts who create, train, and refine them.

Critical Questions Live: Is It up to Business to Save the Planet?

  • Video | Runtime: 0:59:42

With climate change reaching a critical tipping point, business leaders must ask themselves what they can contribute to solving the challenges facing the planet. MIT’s Yossi Sheffi and sustainability expert and author Andrew Winston debate and discuss the role of business in supporting sustainability goals.

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The Trouble With Cybersecurity Management

To better prepare for growing cyber threats, organizations and managers must build awareness about the complexity of cybersecurity and adopt training programs that mimic real-world scenarios. One option is “management flight simulators” that let experienced and novice managers run simulations to learn how to respond to cyberattacks.

Let’s Dig In

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  • Read Time: 2 min 

On Oct. 2 and 3, MIT SMR is dropping its paywall — all of the content is freely available to visitors. Readers will have immediate access to ideas, research, benchmarks and tools, all grounded in the reality of our technologically driven economy and society. We’re offering some recommendations, based on what readers tell us are some of the most pressing problems they’re facing right now.

There’s Always a Time Lag (With a Price Tag)

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  • Read Time: 7 min 

Technology changes faster than society can keep up, a pattern now playing out with artificial intelligence. Many CEOs are taking a wait-and-see approach to AI, while others are anxious to barrel forward. In both cases, there’s little conversation about AI’s human costs. Incremental adaption makes it more likely that AI algorithms shared across organizations and geography are spreading their shortcomings. Leaders must act to mitigate these challenges if AI is to benefit society.

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Need Motivation at Work? Try Giving Advice

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  • Read Time: 3 min 

Research shows that giving advice is key to restoring confidence and motivation, which are two important factors for achieving long-term goals. So, instead of having struggling employees seek advice, it’s helpful to have them give it to others.

AI-Driven Leadership

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  • Read Time: 7 min 

Not many companies are there yet, but there’s a developing framework for what it takes to lead an AI-driven company. Leaders at the forefront of AI have seven key attributes: They learn the technologies; establish clear business objectives; set an appropriate level of ambition; look beyond pilots and proofs of concept; prepare people for the journey; get the necessary data; and orchestrate collaborative organizations.

Building an Ethically Strong Organization

Unethical behavior and misconduct has been a persistent problem in the business world. A company’s ethical norms are a cumulative outcome of how daily ethical dilemmas are addressed in the workplace. Over time, these micro-level issues can evolve into a corporate ethics scandal — unless organizations work to help employees make ethical choices day to day.

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Finding the Middle Ground in a Politically Polarized World

Consumers and employees increasingly expect companies to engage with social, environmental, and economic issues. But business leaders can find themselves between a rock and a hard place, especially when corporate political activism is framed as “take a stand or be silent.” The reality is that companies need a more nuanced set of options.

Bringing Lessons From #MeToo to the Boardroom

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  • Read Time: 7 min 

In the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp social movements — not to mention the continuing wave of resignations amid misconduct allegations — sexual harassment policies must be on your board’s agenda. This is true regardless of whether the organization is public, private, or nonprofit. For the sake of all its stakeholders, employees, and customers, directors need to do the right thing — and do it now.

With Goals, FAST Beats SMART

The conventional wisdom of goal setting is so deeply ingrained that managers rarely stop to ask if it works. The traditional approach to goals — the annual cycle, privately set and reviewed goals, and a strong linkage to incentives — can actually undermine the alignment, coordination, and agility that’s needed for a company to execute its strategy.

The Ability to Navigate the In-Between Spaces

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  • Read Time: 6 min 

Efforts to effectively connect decision-makers in large organizations across functions, divisions, and business units — not to mention with other companies, governments, and other external stakeholders — usually require organizational innovations. Several key leadership attributes are necessary for this to work. They include the ability to navigate the gaps not covered by specialists, a record of following through and getting things done, and knowledge of other cultures, including the ability to speak multiple languages.

The Mindsets of a Leader

Researchers have identified six distinct mindsets that contribute to leaders’ portfolio of leadership styles by asking one simple question: Whom do the leaders serve? Identifying these mindsets can help companies recognize how the leader’s styles are helping — or hurting — their performance.

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