In a July 2016 letter to Fortune magazine, a new manager assessed a changing workforce that will increasingly include smart machines; and considered the skills needed to be part of that future. Babson College’s Thomas Davenport, an information technology and management professor, said the need for human leadership skills won’t slip into the ether anytime soon.
“Organizations will probably evolve into a two-part structure,” he told Fortune. “People with high EQ will still lead the remaining humans, while other people with expertise will ‘manage’ the machines.”
For instance, managers will need to do the following according to the article, citing Davenport and Julia Kirby’s book “Only Humans Need Apply: Winners and Losers in the Age of Smart Machines.”
- Managers need to be big picture thinkers. People have a greater view of context and how things fit or don’t fit in a larger continuum. The type of thinking that gets them to that place isn’t structured, which machines struggle with, Davenport said.
- Managers need to know a machine’s strengths and weaknesses. As intelligent as machines are increasingly built to be, there are some tasks that will fare better and be handled more effectively in human hands. Take for instance, assessing a business, which involves many factors; some are easily processed as quantitative data versus an abundance of qualitative and extremely subjective nuances to wade through.
- Managers have to gather information that machines need to complete some tasks. While there’s no getting around the growing level of comfort people have providing sensitive information to machines, a high level of disclosure to computers can’t be assumed. People will still play a key role gathering data for some things.
- Managers will still be responsible for persuading people to act. Big data and other smart technology can provide all the insights in the world but ultimately, it will take human beings to make what’s been learned actionable.
Bravetta Hassell is a Chief Learning Officer associate editor. Comment below, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.