By Ayman Chowdhury, Director, Programs & Advisory at Competent Boards.

In today’s rapidly evolving landscape, where Artificial Intelligence (AI) seems to be driving innovation and change in every industry, it’s crucial to pause and reflect on what we might be unintentionally leaving behind – Emotional Intelligence (EI). The question is not whether AI is essential (it undeniably is), but whether we are losing our grip on EI in this pursuit of technological excellence.

AI has made astounding progress, revolutionizing how we work, communicate, and live. It can analyze data at lightning speed, automate mundane tasks, and even predict future trends with remarkable accuracy. But amidst this AI frenzy, the essence of what makes us human, our ability to understand and connect with others on an emotional level, often takes a back seat.

The changing boardroom landscape: According to the future boardroom survey by Competent Boards, 64% of respondents believe that interpersonal skills, including emotional intelligence, will be the most important category of skills for future board members. On the other hand, 26% emphasized the importance of technological proficiency, including understanding AI and cybersecurity. This highlights the increasing need for a balanced skill set in board governance and leadership roles.

AI enhances efficiency, EI drives empathy: AI can streamline operations, optimize supply chains, and improve decision-making through data analysis. However, EI provides the human touch, fostering empathy and compassion, which are invaluable in building strong teams and stakeholder relationships. Board members need to remember that while AI can optimize processes, it’s EI that humanizes organizations.

AI provides insights, EI navigates complex human dynamics: AI can crunch numbers and generate insights but struggles to navigate the nuances of human relationships and organizational politics. EI is essential for understanding the feelings and motivations of employees, customers, and partners, which can be critical in making strategic decisions that go beyond the numbers.

AI and EI are complementary: Rather than being at odds, AI and EI can complement each other. AI can augment our ability to process vast amounts of data, allowing us more time to focus on EI-related activities like team building, mentoring, and fostering a positive workplace culture. 

AI can’t replace authentic leadership: While AI can provide data-driven recommendations, it can’t replace the strategic leadership provided by board members. EI enables leaders to make decisions that align with the organization’s values and mission, taking into account the human impact of those decisions. Future-oriented and values-driven leadership will be increasingly important in the boardrooms of tomorrow.

Ethical considerations require EI: Ethical considerations become paramount as organizations increasingly rely on AI. It’s EI that helps board members navigate these ethical dilemmas by considering the broader societal and human implications of AI-driven decisions.

Board members, as Helle Bank Jorgensen calls them, “Stewards of the Future“, must recognize the dual importance of AI and EI in this era. Embracing AI’s potential is vital for staying competitive and innovative, but not at the expense of our emotional intelligence. Striking a balance between technological advancements and human values is the key to sustainable success in the age of AI. So, let us not lose our grip on EI, for it’s the human touch that truly defines our leadership and the legacy we leave behind.

Back To News & Views