The Future of Leadership: Balancing AI Coaching Tools with the Human Touch

    April 1, 2024 Posted by : Tim Hagen
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    The Future of Leadership: Balancing AI Coaching Tools with the Human Touch

    Can artificial intelligence truly capture the essence of human coaching? This month, we tackle the tantalizing possibilities and potential pitfalls of AI in the coaching sphere.

    As companies increasingly turn to AI platforms to streamline leadership processes, we scrutinize whether this trend could inadvertently eclipse the irreplaceable value of person-to-person interactions, particularly in sensitive areas like year-end reviews.

    We examine the delicate balance between technological efficiency and maintaining the human touch in coaching. Can AI can truly enhance coaching, or does it risk replacing the nuanced art of human leadership? We try to forecast the future of coaching technology and reflect on how we define effective leadership in an increasingly automated world.

    April is coaching technology month (or is going to be) and how people go about using technology for the support and, potentially, the delivery of coaching. Artificial intelligence (AI) is all the rage. Disclaimer here, we love AI. I want to be very clear when I throw out some cautions that I'm not against AI. You just have to use it strategically.

    Recently, I spoke to a company that's using AI, and the woman said, "We're going to deploy a new AI platform. It's really going to help our leaders save time. They just don't have time to coach."

    She explained further about it, and I stopped her for a moment. "I have to ask you something and I don't want you to answer right away. Are you cool with that?"

    She started laughing and said, "Sure."

    "Who's doing the year-end reviews, the leader or AI?" I urged her to think about it before she responded.

    After about 30 seconds, she was still thinking. Then she said, "Boy, that's a great question."

    I told her I love AI. I use it all the time. We have AI built into our coaching platform. But I told her she has to be careful that AI doesn't become a replacement for leaders. Many leaders will grab ahold of that in seconds and use it to replace their coaching conversations.

    This reminds me of a company 20 years ago where everyone was going to have their end-of-year review. When I walked in that day it happened to be their Evaluation Day. The place was a ghost town. It was really quiet, and leaders were rushing to get their end-of-year evaluations done, which indicated potentially not being done thoughtfully. I remember watching people come out of their people's offices dismayed. I would ask them what was wrong, and everyone said they hated these evaluations.

    "Every year we go through this. They chose this software tool with eight components we're graded on, and one is entrepreneurship. Has the employee ever demonstrated entrepreneurial strategies?"

    I found that funny because I'm an entrepreneur. There wasn't another entrepreneur in that building. Yet the leaders (who are not entrepreneurs) were going to evaluate them on their entrepreneurial capabilities, yet they had never facilitated training, coaching, or mentoring in entrepreneurship. This created discord.

    I believe AI has a high possibility of doing the same thing if people try to replace the leader to employ conversation.

    April is going to be coaching technology month. Let me also tease you a little. We've come up with a very cool tool leveraging coaching automation. Let's take the fundamental component of self-awareness. What if we could automate getting people to answer questions that would build self-awareness? That would accelerate teamwork and accelerate a positive mentality when it comes to listening to their teammates? Wouldn't that improve the workplace?

    Come back for our next episode/article and we'll dive into that one.

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    About Author

    Tim Hagen
    Tim Hagen

    Tim Hagen founded Progress Coaching, a Training Reinforcement Partner Company, in 1997. His entrepreneurial career began in college leading to positions in sales, sales management, and sales training for small and large corporations, and eventually ownership of several training companies. Tim is often a keynote speaker at companies teaching the value of coaching and conversations in the workplace. He possesses a unique combination of hands-on experience, academics, and innovative insight to solve the industry’s most common challenges specific to workplace performance. Tim holds a bachelor’s degree in Adult Education and Training from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

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