It’s Your Decision: How Corporate Boards Use AI

Is your board of directors ready for the future? Are you?

AI is creeping into the boardroom. In fact, one company now has an AI bot on their board! That shows AI issues are now fiduciary and ethical considerations for any board member, yet few directors are truly future-ready. Our guest, Helle Bank Jørgensen, has lots of wisdom to share thanks to her experience as CEO and founder of Competent Boards.

ILI is all about future-ready leadership. We can help you with your board, especially when it comes to leadership in the age of AI. We actually wrote the book on it! Learn more at InnovativeLeadership.com.

To paraphrase the Spider-Man proverb: “With AI power comes board responsibility.”

As artificial intelligence continues seeping through our workplaces, it presents major fiduciary and ethical risks complacent boards of directors don’t see – but competent boards are acting on now.

There’s no denying that AI showers a wealth of potential to aid decision-making. These five guidelines will help your board make those decisions wisely and mitigate risks for your organization. They’re based on expert guidance from this week’s podcast guest: Helle Bank Jorgensen, the founder and CEO of Competent Boards.

1. Can you trust your AI?

First and foremost, you have to be able to trust the information an AI system is giving you. This goes beyond the misinformation and disinformation on social media. AI is only as good as the data it’s trained on, so determine how objective, accurate, and robust the system’s data is. Programmers can even introduce their own personal biases without realizing it. So, think hard about the guardrails you want in any AI systems you use, then continually eye your trust in them. In this way, trust becomes a bridge between the tech and its users.

2. AI enhances decision-making; it doesn’t replace it.

Some complacent boards are already blindly accepting AI results as decisions. But if they lead to problems, the legal responsibility (and consequences!) remains with you, the human board member. So, think of AI only as an advisor, one who curates and simplifies comprehensive company data for you—while you apply your very human critical thinking and experience-driven intuition to shape the final decision. The bottom line: you’ll be held accountable, so insert yourself into every equation!

3. Remember the risks.

This can’t be emphasized enough. AI is very susceptible to the old coder’s adage of GIGO: Garbage In = Garbage Out. One bit of bias, one byte of false data, and your AI’s conclusions will be off the mark. That bad data can be accidental or intentional (like Deepfake videos). Relying on distorted reality leads to off-target—and potentially fatal—business decisions. Heed Helle Bank Jørgensen’s mantra from our podcast: “Trust is a big, big word.”

4. Be healthily skeptical.

This is a guardrail building on Guideline 3 above. Given the risks of data reliability, balance AI’s vast potential with a discerning perspective. You have real-world experience, insight, emotion, and intuition. Together, they give you a very human edge in judgment. Use it! But don’t let it cloud your judgment to become too risk-averse; one major advantage to AI is that it often sees counterintuitive trends and solutions humans can’t. So, balance is key here.

5. Learn to recognize and mitigate the inherent biases.

AI is structured by human coders. And humans are far from perfect! From insular thinking to confirmation bias, some slant is therefore inherent in any AI system. There’s no one solution to this, although the more diverse the thinking and experiences of your AI’s developers, the more these invisible biases can be avoided. Ultimately, though, you’ll need to rely on critical examination, self-awareness, and challenging pre-conceived notions to assess AI’s results.

Through all five guidelines, one conclusion becomes crystal clear: AI truly begins and ends with the human touch.

Artificial intelligence sits at the very beginning of unprecedented growth into every corner of the business world. The stakes only grow higher from here. So, how competent is your board? And what will you do to make it future-ready? The organizations that start upskilling their boards now will be best positioned for the fluid futures ahead.

 

The Innovative Leadership Institute intensely studies the interplay between AI and leadership. Join us for our webinar about it; you’ll find details below. Our latest book addresses it; Innovative Leadership and Followership in the Age of AI. And check out our online courses and coaching services at InnovativeLeadership.com.

This article was adapted by Dan Mushalko from the Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future podcast episode Competent Boards By Choice, Not Chance with guest Helle Bank Jørgensen, CEO and Founder, Competent Boards.


AI Webinar February 27th

Reminder! Our AI and leadership webinar, Leading at the Intersection of Humanity and Technology: Future-Ready Your Leaders, is coming up in less than a week! On February 27th, at 1 pm EST, join executive advisor Maureen Metcalf and AI expert Neil Sahota, as they discuss the future of AI in the workplace and the 10 characteristics leaders will need to be effective in the age of AI. You’ll also have a chance to ask your most pressing questions about AI and its role in leadership and business.

Attendees of this free webinar will get a discounted price for our new comprehensive AI and leadership course, Innovative Leadership in the Age of AI. Get more info and secure your spot for the webinar here.


Thank you for reading the Innovative Leadership Newsletter, brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.

The Innovative Leadership Institute strives to elevate the quality of leadership worldwide. If you are looking for help developing your leaders, explore our services.

How Great Leaders Can Fix Big Problems — Even in Healthcare

Whether it is visiting a doctor, understanding and paying a medical bill, or picking out the right health insurance plan, we can probably all agree that our regular interactions with the healthcare system are not as seamless or as easy to access as they should be. Healthcare is too hard to navigate, costs too much, and ultimately does not work well for the people it’s meant to serve — all of us.

Too often, this lapses into pessimism, a belief that we can’t improve US healthcare. At nearly one-fifth of the economy, healthcare is too big to fail — and to fix. But the truth is that there is a lot that people can change in healthcare if they are motivated to take on these seemingly insurmountable problems.

The trick is to think like a basketball team, not a track team. In the latter, runners are out for themselves, and points are awarded for individual performance. In basketball, nearly every point scored relies on the skills and effort of the whole team. Assists are as important as goals scored, and strong defense makes offensive success possible.

Creating this collaborative environment takes embracing three principles: servant leadership, connectedness through authenticity, and innovating with transparency.

 

Servant Leadership

First, at the heart of everything is servant leadership. Servant leadership is all about keeping the people that you serve at the core of what you do. At Walgreens, our boots-on-the-ground leaders are our pharmacists. Walgreens pharmacists are in nearly 9,000 stores across the country, and especially in rural communities, pharmacists are the cornerstone of people’s perceptions of the healthcare system.

Our pharmacists embody servant leadership. Often, they are providing expert counsel while integrating kindness and compassion into every interaction they have with their community. Their servant leadership perspective prompts our pharmacists to truly go above and beyond for patients. Our pharmacists serve as the healthcare system’s air traffic control by coordinating care, knitting together patient needs, and following up to make sure those needs are taken care of. Walgreens pharmacists also help with minor injuries or illnesses and deliver care through vaccination, testing, and, in some cases, prescribing.

Our pharmacists are truly connected to their communities, and they find ways where they can really help and make a difference. Their servant leadership mentality motivates them to do so, and that culture feeds up into the entire Walgreens organization.

 

Connectedness Through Authenticity

While servant leadership can create connections to the community, it’s also important to make internal connections that strengthen teams. Authentic leadership is hard to crystalize and almost impossible to rehearse, but when it’s not there, teams fall apart. Team members have to know that their leader has passion and has their back. More importantly, team members have to believe that their leader has heart and kindness in an authentic way. If the passion isn’t genuine, it’s obvious. But when authentic leadership is there, it’s a key differentiator.

When I was in military training, I was interacting with people who had graduated from military schools and places like West Point — they were much better equipped to take on the technical and logistical tasks of our training. I wasn’t the best at many of the military skills themselves, like loading weapons or excelling on drills, but in a leadership position, I was awarded for showing heart and passion, conveying that to my organization, and taking care of my team. That created connectivity and trust among all of us.

To me, that kind of magic happens when leaders and teams find a collective purpose and trust each other to achieve that purpose. This trust facilitates what General Stanley McChrystal calls in his book, Team of Teams, “shared consciousness,” or thinking and acting as a team rather than as individuals.

In healthcare, for example, we have a collective purpose, but we don’t always have trust between stakeholders or from our patients. To be better leaders in our teams and across the industry, we have to get back to basics — show authenticity, connect to our common purpose, and trust our teammates as we all work towards our goal of serving patients and improving quality of life.

 

Innovating with Transparency

The best leaders cultivate servant leadership and create authentic connections to tie their team together, but they also keep innovating. Many leaders and organizations focus on innovation, but what takes innovation from a buzzword to the next level is changing paradigms with clear goals and transparent communication.

No team or organization stays stagnant forever — nor should we want it to. Particularly in healthcare, change happens quickly, and organizations that don’t adapt technology effectively are often left behind. At the same time, change can feel scary and uncertain for teams, especially today when conversations about new technologies like artificial intelligence are also accompanied by discussions of how many jobs AI will replace.

During times of change, transparency in leadership takes precedence. That’s why, at Walgreens, we’re being thoughtful about where our existing strengths are — our servant leaders, our people — and how AI can complement what they do. Instead of spending time counting pills and doing paperwork, AI can help our pharmacists facilitate human connection by freeing time to really listen to people, understanding their health concerns so we can treat them better. Without transparent leadership about new technology, teams fall into fear. Strategic application of technology and open communication can help teams thrive.

This article was written by John Driscoll, executive vice president and president, U.S. Healthcare at Walgreens Boots Alliance. It is a companion to the Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future podcast episode Dispensing Wellness: Walgreens’ Rx for Healthcare with guest John Driscoll.

Check out past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple PodcastsTuneInSpotifyAmazon MusicAudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.

 

Thank you for reading the Innovative Leadership Newsletter, brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.

The Innovative Leadership Institute strives to elevate the quality of leadership worldwide. If you are looking for help developing your leaders, explore our services.

You’ve Got a Lot of Nerve!

Welcome to the Innovative Leadership Newsletter, brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.

This week’s article is written by Dan Mushalko, VP of  Research & Media at the Innovative Leadership InstituteIt is a companion piece to an interview with Martha Piper and Indira Samarasekera on Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future, titled It Takes Nervewhich premiered January 9th, 2024. This episode was produced in partnership with the International Leadership Association as part of their 25th Annual Global Conference held in October 2023. 

Link to the entire interview:

Listen to the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future via Apple PodcastsTuneInSpotifyAmazon MusicAudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

 

You’ve Got a Lot of Nerve! (And That’s a Good Thing)

Forging new territory is always hard. Forging it as a leader is even harder: your team, your stakeholders, and your critics are all watching you.

Now, imagine you are the new territory! For women entering the still-heavily male-dominated C-suite ranks, scrutiny and pressure are extra intense. Any stumble prompts mutterings of “What do you expect with a woman?”

Our guests in this week’s podcast actually heard that kind of feedback. As the first female presidents of their respective universities, Martha Piper (University of British Columbia) and Indira Samarasekera (University of Alberta) learned how to navigate through such resistance and obstacles. Those lessons can benefit all innovative leaders!

The Key:

It takes nerve, grit, and grace.

Nerve and Grit

These are really two sides of the same coin, whose currency is determination. We all face obstacles, especially when we try to make an impact. When those setbacks happen, it’s important to focus even more sharply on your goal. It’s all too easy to be blinded by the emotions of the situation, but remembering the importance of your goal helps you see that your work is bigger than you. That can energize you to move forward. Staying on target despite disruptions, simple stumbles, or outright attacks is nerve in action. Your authenticity, courage, resilience, and personal experience all help fuel your innate grit. And the more you exercise your grit, the stronger it becomes.

Grace

There’s a myth out there that grit and grace are mutually exclusive – that graceful leadership is synonymous with weakness. That myth arose from outdated machismo in the executive gym. In reality, it’s far easier to lose your temper than to muster the strength to maintain grace under fire. The ability to retain your own internal balance: to express gratitude to your team, to see the opportunities in apparent failures, and to forgive; all these elements of grace create loyalty, authenticity, and true problem-solving. In short, grace makes your leadership stronger.

Upholding Principles

Here’s where utilizing your nerve and grit comes into play at each leadership level. When you’re in the spotlight, the temptation to cave under external pressures can be strong. But truly effective leaders don’t lose sight of their values; that’s a major factor in their long-term success. Hold on to your principles, filtering your decisions through that lens. You’ll face criticism and backlash whether you bend to external pressure or not – so you might as well stay true to your principles regardless. When your team sees this, it has the added benefit of boosting your authenticity and enhancing their trust.

Doctors Samarasekera and Piper delve into more detail in this week’s podcast, and add many examples from their own lives in their new book Nerve: Two Women Who Went First.

 

This article was adapted by Dan Mushalko from the Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future podcast episode It Takes Nerve with guests Martha Piper and Indira Samarasekera.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

  1. Take the next step with this 30-minute course on Leading During Disruption.
  2. Review our Comprehensive Leadership Development programs and find your perfect fit!

To-do list:

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple PodcastsTuneInSpotifyAmazon MusicAudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.

Is Your Leadership Still Relevant?

Welcome to the Innovative Leadership Newsletter, brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.

This week’s article is written by Dan Mushalko, VP of  Research & Media at the Innovative Leadership InstituteIt is a companion piece to an interview with Dr. Nicole Ferry and Dr. Nathan Eva on Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future, titled Non-Traditional Leadership Models for Our New Erawhich premiered January 3rd, 2024. This episode was produced in partnership with the International Leadership Association as part of their 25th Annual Global Conference held in October 2023. 

Link to the entire interview:

Listen to the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future via Apple PodcastsTuneInSpotifyAmazon MusicAudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

Leader Development and the Need for New Leadership Models

The world has changed dramatically in the last few years. That’s a given. But too many of us don’t realize that effective leadership has changed dramatically, too.

While leadership development is crucial for organizational success, many programs fail to catalyze real change. They’re too often based on old concepts that focus on the individual rather than the reality of the workplace having multiple leaders who must work with each other and lead their own teams.

What you learned from that MBA program 20 or 10 (even 5!) years ago probably doesn’t apply anymore. So, what does a solid modern leadership development program contain? Look for:

Collective Leadership

No single leader possesses all the skills to manage crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic. These issues require more than one leader. We need groups of leaders who can lead collaboratively in different areas. Collective leadership facilitates cooperation – handing off the leadership baton between team members or working closely towards common goals. After all, leadership fundamentally involves relationships and interactions. An overemphasis on the individual misses crucial power dynamics in organizational spaces – and underdelivers on success.

Learning from Nontraditional Sources

Old-school top-down leadership no longer fits every circumstance. To paraphrase a wise saying, “The leadership style that got us to the problems isn’t the leadership that will solve them.” New and effective ways of leading can be found by looking at unexpected sources. Indigenous worldviews are just one example. First Nations cultures in Australia are the longest continual-running societies on the planet; what’s different about how they’ve been successfully led through literally thousands of years? One possible key is that they don’t rely on a single leader but focus on the group looking after one another – caring for people professionally and personally. To start, see what you can glean from your family heritage: Italian, West African, Okinawan – all have distinct ways of leading and doing business.

Leadership Alignment

With multiple leaders and styles in any organization, it’s vital that everyone is aligned toward the same goals and overall mission. Communication from the very top is fundamental. Any leader who isn’t fully and openly sharing the company’s quarterly, annual, and long-term objectives automatically limits success.

Adapt to the New Worker

The post-COVID struggle of return-to-office versus work-from-home is one symptom of old-school bosses not recognizing that workers themselves have changed: their expectations, their priorities, their most productive work styles…all of these are vastly different now. That means effective motivation has changed, too. Maximizing your organization’s success depends greatly on how well you change to meet today’s workers.

Two core leadership qualities we develop in the Innovative Leadership Institute‘s programs are resiliency and the mind of a scientist (i.e., always learning and willing to experiment with new techniques). Those traits will amplify all of the points made above and help you continue your leadership development no matter what new changes the world throws your way!

Dan Mushalko adapted this article from the Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future podcast episode Non-Traditional Leadership Models for Our New Era with guests Nicole Ferry and Nathan Eva.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

  1. Take the next step with this 30-minute course on Leading During Disruption.
  2. Review our Comprehensive Leadership Development programs and find your perfect fit!

To-do list:

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple PodcastsTuneInSpotifyAmazon MusicAudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.

2024 Trends: Tensions and How to Manage Them

Welcome to the Innovative Leadership Newsletter, brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.

This week’s article is written by Maureen Metcalf, CEO of the Innovative Leadership InstituteIt is a companion piece to her interview with Dr. Christopher Washington, Provost and Executive Vice President of Franklin University, on Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future titled Leadership Trends for 2024which premiered on December 26, 2023. 

Link to the entire interview:

Listen to the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future via Apple PodcastsTuneInSpotifyAmazon MusicAudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

Every generation of business leaders experiences social, economic, and environmental tensions that must be managed to achieve successful organizational results. What’s new in 2024 is that the volume and pace are accelerating. To navigate these changes, we must move from solving problems to managing tensions. What combination of problems, barriers, and opportunities will create the tensions and barriers that managers must manage in the coming year?

Here are the top trends I see for 2024 and beyond.

Trend 1: Artificial Intelligence & Computing Power

Technological advancements, including AI, robotics, sensors, and gene editing, are taking center stage in 2024. We can expect a significant impact of these advancements on how most people live and work. Bill Gates says, “This new technology can help people everywhere improve their lives. At the same time, the world needs to establish the rules of the road so that any downsides of artificial intelligence are far outweighed by its benefits, and so that everyone can enjoy those benefits no matter where they live or how much money they have. The Age of AI is filled with opportunities and responsibilities.”

Tension: As Gates highlights, we must balance the need for speed and experimentation with solid processes and operational excellence. Balance the cost and time investment in training and desire for novelty with the speed at which changes happen. Where do we invest, and where do we train? One crucial recommendation is to determine where to learn and where it is essential to unlearn outdated mindsets, skills, and behaviors.

 

Trend 2: Weather Disruptions and Environmental Degradation

Weather will elevate to the strategic level for many organizations. We are seeing changes in weather patterns that are disrupting weather prediction models. Accurate prediction is becoming more challenging. Since weather impacts every supply chain segment, every organization will be affected to varying degrees.

While weather is more visible, the issues are broader and more encompassing than weather patterns. Environmental degradation encompasses various environmental harms, such as pollution and resource depletion, while changing weather patterns refers explicitly to the alterations of atmospheric conditions. Corporate activities such as growing industrialization and overexploitation of natural resources can lead to environmental degradation and changing weather patterns.

Tension: Balance the need for data and certainty for weather-related strategic planning with the fast-changing climate disruptions. Mitigation can include creating a weather-related strategic plan to balance the need for data and certainty. The planning process and having a solid data source like the Weather Company to predict longer-term trends will provide a solid foundation for crucial decisions.

 

Trend 3: Polarization

The polarization of groups and communities makes agreeing on a path and moving forward challenging. As people in any group — whether a team, department, company, community, nation, or people sharing a planet — we need to find a process to identify common ground and develop agreements and solutions to address our most significant challenges. If the trend continues, we may see a rise in incivility in some groups and, in others, a willingness to find common ground.

Tension: Within organizations, we want people to have the opportunity to be authentic, and concurrently, the organization needs employees, contractors, and board members to focus on the business of the organization civilly and respectfully. We need to create a psychologically safe environment to explore the impacts of policies and business decisions among team members with vastly different perspectives. Then, we need to make decisions that team members will support. Tolerating disrespectful behavior and noncompliance with business decisions can lead to long-term damage.

 

Trend 4: Shifting Interest Rates

For over a decade, individuals and businesses alike have become accustomed to easy money offered in a low-interest rate environment. This all changed in 2023, with escalating interest rates significantly shifting ROI calculations and, in some cases, overall business models. While increasing interest rates tend to slow borrowing and business investment, reducing it has the opposite effect. Additionally, fluctuations in interest rates in either direction unevenly impact individual and organizational spending.

Tension: Balance sticking to your organization’s proven products and services with rapid prototyping and exploration. To regularly create a profitable product portfolio, organizations must monitor the economic environment and its impact on purchasing and selling power, maintain robust processes to evaluate current products’ viability, and simultaneously launch new products. These processes should align with the organizational strategic planning process and be agile enough to adjust as the interest rate environment shifts.

 

Trend 5: Work-Life Demands

For many, the aftermath of COVID-19 has changed workplace norms and expectations, and many people are trying to find a new work-life balance. While we read that AI will make a four-day workweek possible, others see the opposite: increased expectations and work volume. This is already leading to burnout and epidemic-level mental health issues.

Tension: We all want to attract and retain the best talent while managing increasing cost pressures and inflation. As organizational leaders, we must find approaches to balance sustainable workloads with meeting our financial goals. High levels of retirement and long lead times to hire are straining many organizations during the current labor shortage. Companies are experimenting with approaches such as a four-day workweek with some success. The Chamber of Commerce recommends, “Businesses can increase their hiring pools by removing barriers to entering the workforce like expanding childcare access, offering innovative benefits, participating in second-chance hiring, and providing opportunities for new and existing staff to be upskilled and reskilled on the job.”

 

Trend 6: Multigenerational Workforce

The presence of five generations in the workforce creates a level of diversity not previously seen. This diversity of thought, experience, and approach will allow companies to leverage a wide range of talent. Still, generational diversity will also create challenges ranging from clashing workplace and cultural norms to more complex decision-making processes.

Tension:Balance the broad perspectives that relate to almost every topic, from remote work to technology use. Some organizations engage members representing each generation to create organizational norms and agreements. They work past the stereotypes to understand one another and structure communication approaches, benefits, and leadership approaches for each group. Each generation must feel respected and engaged to create a thriving workplace.

 

Trend 7: Shift in Post-Secondary Education Pursuits

According to the Fall 2023 National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s regular updates on higher education enrollment, “Students continue to gravitate towards shorter-term credentials, with enrollments in undergraduate certificate programs jumping 9.9 percent over 2022, compared to 3.6 percent for associate degrees and just 0.9 percent for bachelor’s degrees.” There are lots of workforce implications here.

Tension: Employees will need retraining at an accelerating rate based on the range of disruptions we see. They will need to choose between a range of options for retraining and balance the cost and time involved. Concurrently, organizations and governments must weigh these investments based on the broader community, social impact, and cost. Also, universities and corporations can collaborate to incorporate relevant micro-credentials that lead to employability into full degree programs that can reduce the overall time and cost to obtain credentials, and benefit both individuals’ future career prospects and corporations’ need for more advanced talent.

Trend 8: Geopolitical Uncertainty

Reshoring of manufacturing, CHIPS Act implementation, new alliances, diverse worker perceptions of global conflicts, and the state actors involved are among the range of factors driving geopolitical uncertainty. Geopolitical factors drive tensions that spill over into organizational policies and staff interactions. Geopolitical issues can be very personal, highly charged, and polarizing. Leaders must understand how their colleagues and employees are affected. Often, uninformed statements have the potential to damage relationships. Part of leadership is to create a safe environment for employees to work.

Tension: Beyond creating a safe environment for people, organizational impacts can cover every aspect of the enterprise. Organizations and their boards must develop clear points of view about when and how to respond to geopolitical issues. Responses may evolve as conditions change.

 

Final Thoughts

Leaders must take care of themselves first to lead their organizations effectively. For many, this means maintaining resilience-supporting practices ranging from having solid relationships and exercise routines to meditation and prayer practices. After self-care, leaders must then create environments where their organizations can thrive.

These trends mean everyone will face challenges in the next year. Some will be excited by the opportunities; others already fear the risks. No matter which tendency people have, each individual will be in a situation where the changes impact them personally in ways they didn’t expect. Leaders need to excel at the human skills of communication, acting with empathy, and even compassion and love for the precious humans who will struggle and overcome complex challenges. Everyone will be called to dig deep and do difficult things in 2024 — and the years that follow.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Maureen Metcalf is the founder and CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute. She is an expert in anticipating and leveraging future business trends. Ms. Metcalf helps leaders elevate their leadership quality and transform their organizations to create sustainable impact and results. She captures 30 years of experience and success in an award-winning series of books used by public, private, and academic organizations to align company-wide strategy, systems, and culture using Innovative Leadership techniques. Ms. Metcalf is a Fellow of the International Leadership Association. She also serves on the advisory boards of the School of Strategic Leadership at James Madison University and the Mason Leadership Center at Franklin University. Ms. Metcalf earned an MBA from Virginia Tech. She can be reached at mmetcalf@innovativeleadership.com.

Christopher Washington is a learning ecosystem designer who serves as Executive Vice President and Provost of Franklin University.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

  1. Take the next step with this 30-minute course on Leading During Disruption.
  2. Review our Comprehensive Leadership Development programs and find your perfect fit!

To-do list:

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple PodcastsTuneInSpotifyAmazon MusicAudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.

Strengthen Your Business Strategy and Boost Revenue with Weather Data

Welcome to the Innovative Leadership Newsletter, brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.

This week’s article is written by Maureen Metcalf, CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute. It is a companion piece to her interview with Sheri Bachstein, CEO of The Weather Company, on Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future titled Over the Weather: Leadership at the Weather Channel, which premiered on December 17, 2023. 

Link to the entire interview:

Listen to the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future via Apple PodcastsTuneIn, Spotify, Amazon Music, AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

As a leader, when someone asks you, ‘How’s the weather?’ that’s only half the question. For you, it’s really ‘How’s the weather hitting my revenue this quarter?’ Weather impacts almost every business’s financials in some way…yet very few leaders even consider it in their plans!

From supply chain disruptions to changes in consumer behavior, the economic toll exceeds a staggering $500 billion annually. With weather patterns becoming more unpredictable, developing an effective weather strategy is key for leaders across all industries.

Across sectors, weather significantly influences operations. For the aviation industry, approximately 75% of delays trace back to weather. One major airline employs meteorologists to monitor conditions in real time, working to minimize passenger disruptions. Beyond flight operations, weather also affects critical business functions like manufacturing, logistics, and marketing.

Consider consumer buying habits — warmer winter days may lift ice cream sales while extreme heat limits construction activity. By overlaying weather data with retail purchasing analytics, businesses can identify trends and better predict demand shifts from weather triggers. They can then adjust inventory levels or target relevant promotions to match consumer behavior.

Even the healthcare industry can benefit from comprehensive weather data. For example, The Weather Company found over 70% of their users visit their platforms weekly to get forecasts to prepare for effects on health conditions. So, they provide relevant alerts on bad air quality days for asthma sufferers or tips to stay hydrated during heat waves. Retailers can stock up on products aligned to upcoming weather patterns to ensure ample availability of goods that customers want to purchase. And they can also trigger contextually relevant promotions when the weather drives specific shopping missions.

The same approach applies across multiple industries, helping insurance agencies model risk, retailers stock shelves, and event coordinators plan more effectively. The key is developing a cohesive weather strategy.

With abundant weather data available, businesses should tap historical records, real-time monitoring, forecast models, and even probabilistic projections to inform decisions. While foundational weather metrics provide a directional guide, deriving actionable business insights requires thoughtful analysis.

Leveraging weather data to trigger automated marketing campaigns or to build predictive financial models allows companies to get ahead of challenges and spot new opportunities. When paired with machine learning and AI, these weather-based analytics promise even greater competitive advantage.

While the scale of the climate crisis seems daunting, collective action offers hope. As consumers and business leaders, we each have a valuable role to play. Evaluating your organization’s weather strategy marks an important first step. The next time the weather disrupts your supply chain or when a heat wave spikes sales of your summer collection, think of it as nature sending you free data.

Will you use these signals to actively boost your business performance? The choice is yours. But one thing is certain – with a comprehensive weather strategy, you can add a little financial sunshine to each rainy day.

 

ABOUT THE GUEST:

Sheri Bachstein began her career with The Weather Channel nearly 30 years ago as a field producer (otherwise known as storm chaser). Today, as the CEO of The Weather Company, an IBM business (and parent company of The Weather Channel), she holds a deep appreciation for and understanding of weather’s impact on consumers, communities, and businesses. Under her leadership, The Weather Channel is recognized as one of the top 10 most trusted brands in the U.S., the world’s leading provider of weather, and the world’s most accurate forecaster, helping hundreds of enterprise-level companies leverage weather data to increase consumer loyalty and business performance.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

  1. Take the next step with this 30-minute course on Leading During Disruption.
  2. Review our Comprehensive Leadership Development programs and find your perfect fit!

To-do list:

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple PodcastsTuneInSpotify, Amazon Music, AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.

Trailblazing Chief Justice Reveals Her Surprising Path to the Top

Welcome to the Innovative Leadership Newsletter, brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.

This week’s article is written by Maureen Metcalf, CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute. It is a companion piece to her interview with Beverley McLachlin, the first female Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, on Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future titled Leading the Court: Canada’s First Female Chief Justice, which premiered on December 12, 2023. 

Short clip from the interview:

Link to the entire interview:

Listen to the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future via Apple PodcastsTuneIn, Spotify, Amazon Music, AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

What does it take to rise from humble beginnings to the highest judicial office in Canada? For trailblazer Beverley McLachlin, the first female Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, the journey was filled with unexpected turns guided by insightful mentors.

“I never dreamed of being a lawyer, much less a judge,” McLachlin remarks. Yet this small-town Alberta native ascended to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada — and became a quiet leader along the way.

Her story holds invaluable lessons for anyone aspiring to lead, whether or not the law is your calling.

McLachlin credits her unquenchable curiosity to understand the world as a skill that helped her as a judge. An early love of philosophy led her to ponder teaching, but something didn’t feel quite right. At her fiancé’s suggestion, she took a chance at law school and found her life’s passion.

Though the legal profession was dominated by men at the time, she persevered thanks to mentors who nurtured her talent and gave her a fair shot. Once appointed to the bench in her 30s, she rapidly rose through the courts.

For McLachlin, leadership isn’t about raw speeches or rhetoric. “It may be quiet leadership,” she explains. “What is it? Well, I think it’s the leadership of ideas and decision-making.”

Crafting sound rulings means deeply considering all sides of complex issues — and having the courage to take principled if unpopular stances. She’s proud of helping expand equality rights and shape new Indigenous legal frameworks during reconciliation efforts.

Vital qualities for judges also apply to leaders everywhere: seeking out different views humbly and openly before making decisions. “You have to have this ability to look at different aspects and perspectives and weigh them up,” McLachlin advises.

By sharing the inside story of her barrier-breaking legal career, McLachlin provides wisdom from a unique vantage point for anyone aspiring to lead — or make difficult decisions soundly.

McLachlin’s key insights on effective leadership elements as learned through a career in the law:

Curiosity. McLachlin’s natural curiosity and hunger to learn drove her to study philosophy in college, use that analytical thinking, and apply it to real-world situations in her law career. Stagnant thinking and a lack of interest in learning will defeat a leader before they even begin! By being continuously curious, leaders can set themselves apart as just and fair, willing to constantly take in new information (even when it may compete with their own assumptions).

Considering diverse perspectives. As a judge, McLachlin had to consider both sides of every case before her court. This means that she had to listen carefully and respectfully to each party. Like a judge, leaders must remember that every person on their team comes with their perceptions and perspectives. Though those perceptions may not always be productive, it is essential to understand them to improve your organization.

Leaving one’s preconceptions at the door. Leaders need to be able to identify their own biases and separate them from their decision-making process. Biases often lead to decisions that are ill-informed and exclusionary. Remember that to know our biases, we have to have humility and be willing to analyze ourselves.

Courage. Leaders must have the courage to follow their convictions and make unpopular decisions. Rarely will a decision ever please every party. In the case of the courts, judges are tasked with making decisions based on the law and the information they are given. Similarly, leaders have to work within certain parameters and with the knowledge they have. A key component of an innovative leader is understanding that leaders must have the courage to make a fair and just decision with the parameters they are given and the knowledge they have at the time of the decision. This also means having the courage to admit that your decision may need to change when you have more information.

Which leadership insight from McLachlin resonates most with you?

 

ABOUT THE GUEST:

Beverley McLachlin was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada from 2000 to 2017. She is the first woman to hold that position, and the longest-serving Chief Justice in Canadian history. In 2018, McLachlin became a Companion of the Order of Canada, the highest honour within the Order. She is also the #1 bestselling author of two novels, Full Disclosure and Denial, and a memoir, Truth Be Told, which won the prestigious Writers’ Trust Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing and the Ottawa Book Award for Nonfiction.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

  1. Take the next step with this 30-minute course on Leading During Disruption.
  2. Review our Comprehensive Leadership Development programs and find your perfect fit!

To-do list:

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple PodcastsTuneInSpotify, Amazon Music, AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.

Key Lessons on Resilience and Innovation

Welcome to the Innovative Leadership Newsletter, brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.

This week’s article is written by Maureen Metcalf, CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute. It is a companion piece to her interview with Beryl Tomay, Vice President, Last Mile Delivery and Technology at Amazon, on Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future titled To Err Is to Innovate, which premiered on December 5, 2023. 

Short clip from the interview:

Link to the entire interview:

Listen to the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future via Apple PodcastsTuneIn, Spotify, Amazon Music, AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

What can leaders learn from mistakes made along their career journey? Beryl Tomay, Vice President, Last Mile Delivery and Technology at Amazon, shares unique insights from over 18 years at the company.

Everybody makes mistakes and everybody will always make mistakes, Beryl reflects. Early in her career as a software developer, Beryl struggled with errors and failures. However, Amazon’s culture of learning and resilience helped her cope.

Within Beryl’s first six months, she made a coding change that broke Amazon’s “Thank You” purchase page. “I had a pretty tough time with that,” she admits. However, her team provided support to understand the root cause and prevent recurrence. “It kind of makes me better,” says Beryl.

When beating herself up over mistakes, Beryl has kept perspective by remembering two things. First, errors are inevitable at all career levels. Second, the priority is to learn from mistakes rather than dwelling on perfection. This mindset has served to build Beryl’s resilience over 18+ years.

Later, Beryl took the risk to lead business divisions she lacked deep expertise in. The intimidating meetings and decisions challenged her, underscoring the need for investment in rapid learning. However, by asking questions and gathering knowledge from those around her, Beryl succeeded in adding value.

She also continues to take risks via Amazon’s innovation efforts. “Think Big Days” encourage teams to brainstorm creative ideas without judgement. Though not every moonshot works out, big wins like their Alexa technology make failure worthwhile.

What did Beryl learn about mistakes, resilience, and innovation over nearly two decades?

1. Errors happen; focus on learning and prevention.

2. Build resilience through support systems and perspective.

3. Take risks and learn from failures to drive innovation.

4. Foster a culture accepting of mistakes to unlock creativity.

What was your biggest career mistake, and what did you learn? Share your stories and insights below!

 

ABOUT THE GUEST:

Beryl Tomay has been at Amazon for nearly 19 years having joined in 2005 as a Software Development Engineer. She was part of the small team that launched the original Kindle device and remained in the Devices organization for the subsequent 8 years. She joined the nascent Last Mile organization (the logistics business that gets packages through the final steps on their way to customers’ doorsteps) in early 2014 as one of its first employees, and today is responsible for all of Amazon’s Last Mile delivery businesses, including the Delivery Service Partner, Amazon Flex and Hub Delivery programs. In addition, she oversees the Last Mile product and technology teams covering areas such as mapping, routing, capacity planning, pickup points, delivery station and driver experience technologies. Prior to Amazon, Beryl received her undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Waterloo in Canada.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

  1. Take the next step with this 30-minute course on Leading During Disruption.
  2. Review our Comprehensive Leadership Development programs and find your perfect fit!

To-do list:

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple PodcastsTuneInSpotify, Amazon Music, AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.

3 Important Considerations for AI Implementation in Business

Welcome to the Innovative Leadership Newsletter, brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.

This week’s article is written by Maureen Metcalf, CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute. It is a companion piece to her interview with Suchi Srinivasan, Boston Consulting Group Managing Director and Partner on Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future titled Humans in the Loop: AI’s New Business Modelswhich premiered on November 28, 2023. 

Short clip from the interview:

Link to the entire interview:

Listen to the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future via Apple PodcastsTuneIn, Spotify, Amazon Music, AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, keeping up with technological advancements is no longer a luxury but a necessity for contemporary business leaders. These innovations, especially in the field of artificial intelligence, are drastically redefining the way businesses operate. They steer businesses towards an efficient, sustainable, and profitable future. However, while AI has the potential to reshape business models, it also comes with its unique set of challenges.

1. Addressing Ethical Challenges in AI Adoption

The evolution of AI has brought with it challenges that organizations must face, chief among them being ethical considerations. The protection of consumer data, the need for unbiased algorithms, and the imperative for responsible use of this technology are issues that cannot be downplayed or overlooked. The solution lies in adhering strictly to ethical guidelines, implementing stringent security measures, and fostering transparency within organizations. Introducing rigorous stability checks and setting robust standards is also key as we navigate the landscape of an ever-evolving AI vendor ecosystem. By doing so, we are laying the foundation for an AI future that is not only innovative but also accountable.

AI, as a tool, is powerful enough to disrupt established systems and processes, and its infusion into business models necessitates the formulation of a new code of ethics. At this intersection of innovation and responsibility, enterprises have the opportunity to affect positive change at an unprecedented scale. By addressing the ethical challenges that come with AI adoption, companies can ensure that they are not only delivering greater value to customers but also safeguarding their interests. The real potential of AI lies not just in its ability to streamline operations and offer new services but in revolutionizing the very fabric of business conduct by fostering a culture of accountability and trustworthiness.

2. Harnessing AI for Business Model Innovation

The implementation of AI has drastically reshaped the business landscape, offering unprecedented opportunities for innovation and entirely new possibilities for value creation. AI is not merely a tool for automation or increasing efficiency; its most significant potential lies in its capacity to offer unique insights from large unstructured data sets. These insights can empower companies to develop new products or services, fundamentally disrupting traditional business models in the process. Instead of selling raw data, companies are now able to deliver ready-to-consume insights, heralding a shift in the value chain and opening doors to entirely new commercial and billing models. Enterprises have been gathering data for years, hoping to obtain a return on investment. AI offers a significantly faster path to ROI by leveraging this data. Instead of just selling data, businesses can now deliver ready-to-consume insights and reports tailored to the specific needs of their clients.

This opportunity represents a paradigm shift in how we approach value creation in the business world. It places the emphasis on a more client-centric model, where businesses move from selling raw materials or data to providing deep, actionable insights that clients can readily consume and implement. In this sense, AI facilitates a more nuanced understanding of consumer needs, allowing businesses to create more tailored, high-value offers. Moreover, it allows businesses to optimize their operations, making them more efficient and environmentally friendly. The potential is enormous, and we’re only just beginning to scratch the surface. By harnessing the full potential of AI, businesses can not just improve their offerings but disrupt their own business models, paving the way for future growth and success.

3. Mitigating Biases in AI Models for Accuracy

While AI brings automation and efficiency, managing bias in AI models is extremely important. Our reliance on these models for crucial insights and decision-making creates an imperative need to ensure they’re not swayed or affected by inherent historical or human biases. They should represent a fair and balanced interpretation of the world. Suchi Srinivasan suggests that AI models with a capacity ranging between 10 billion to 50 billion parameters are more adaptable to nuances and contexts of these fields. They offer a more focused mitigation of bias and can incorporate explainability better, producing trustworthy insights. As we rely more and more upon these models in guiding critical business decisions and strategies, it is paramount to continuously focus on refining them, actively seek out ways to mitigate biases and strive for accuracy. Remember, AI isn’t a substitute for human intelligence but a tool to augment it. So, the responsibility of ensuring it accurately represents our world lies with us as well.

 

ABOUT THE GUEST:

Suchi (Suchita) Srinivasan has worked at Boston Consulting Group since October of 2010. She is a core member of BCG’s Health Care practice and has significant experience in biopharma—specifically focused on market access, pricing, commercial strategy, and innovative growth. She is the lead for global value, access, and pricing in biopharmaceuticals.

Suchi helps clients with new product planning by supporting investment decisions and ensuring careful consideration of the relevant market and development drivers.

She supports due diligence efforts by quickly understanding new markets, unmet needs, and how to win. In her recent casework at BCG, Suchi also developed end-to-end disease area strategies to identify key areas for investment, led the strategy development for an imminent competitive threat, supported the US salesforce effectiveness effort to identify HCP value drivers, developed the brand positioning strategy for a launch drug entering a competitive class, and developed creative pricing, reimbursement, and access strategies for a drug entering a highly competitive class of drugs by building the narrative around value derived.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

  1. Take the next step with this 30-minute course on Leading During Disruption.
  2. Review our Comprehensive Leadership Development programs and find your perfect fit!

To-do list:

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple PodcastsTuneInSpotify, Amazon Music, AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.

The Rationale of Irrationality

Welcome to the Innovative Leadership Newsletter, brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.

This week’s article is written by Greg Moran, a C-level digital, strategy and change leadership executive with extensive global operations experience. It is a companion piece to his interview on Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future titled The Rationale of Irrationality which premiered on November 21, 2023. 

Link to the entire interview:

Listen to the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future via Apple PodcastsTuneIn, Spotify, Amazon Music, AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

Have you ever found yourself looking at a competitor or a co-worker and thought that they were acting irrationally? Very often, when we see behavior we don’t understand, our immediate thought is that it’s irrational and can therefore be dismissed or ignored. Unfortunately, barring a psychotic break, it is rarely true.

Several years ago, upwards of 5,000 employees at Wells Fargo knowingly broke the law and company policy to create fake accounts on behalf of customers without their permission or knowledge. This seems irrational and very risky. Only when we understand that the bonus incentive at Wells was based on ‘share of wallet’ or the number of accounts each customer had can we understand why people would risk firing and jail time to create fake accounts. They couldn’t earn a bonus if they didn’t hit their ‘share of wallet’ goals. In that context, while still very risky behavior, their actions were at least ‘rational.’

A better approach professionally would be to step back and try to understand the context that the competitor is operating within. One of my favorite aphorisms is, “Everyone acts rationally inside the context that they believe they are operating in.” When something important is at stake, starting with the assumption that the competitor is smart and is acting rationally may be critical to you plotting your own strategy and tactics to address the risk.

The first step in this process requires you to suspend judgment. Then, take the time, either individually or as a team, to understand as much as you can about the context that your competitor is operating in so that you can make sense of their actions.

This applies equally at an individual level in both personal and professional relationships. Again, the process starts with offering grace and/or suspending judgment so that you can take the time to learn the context driving the behavior.

As a leader, make sure that you think through the unintended consequences of the structures you put in place for your team. This will help you avoid the Wells Fargo scenario mentioned above.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Greg Moran is a C-level digital, strategy and change leadership executive with extensive global operations experience. He led corporate strategy for Ford and designed the plan that Alan Mullaly used to turn around the company. Greg held C-level IT positions in app dev, infrastructure, and core banking applications at Ford, Nationwide Insurance, and Bank One/JPMC, respectively. He began his career in consulting with Arthur Andersen Accenture, working across industries with 100 companies over the course of a decade. He is passionate about leadership and culture, and teaches part-time on the topic at Ohio University.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

  1. Take the next step with this 30-minute course on Leading During Disruption.
  2. Review our Comprehensive Leadership Development programs and find your perfect fit!

To-do list:

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple PodcastsTuneInSpotify, Amazon Music, AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.