Evolving Leadership for AI Delivery

Wednesday, 29 March 2023

Evolving Leadership for AI Delivery

As the application of artificial intelligence (AI) grows within the Funds Industry, Ciaran Fennessy (Citi), explores how leadership will need to evolve to support the deployment of AI.


Artificial intelligence, or AI, has rapidly become a transformative force in the world of business and leadership. With its ability to analyse vast amounts of data and make sophisticated decisions, AI is helping organizations to become more efficient, effective, and competitive. As a result, many leaders are turning to AI to help them navigate the complex challenges of the modern business environment and drive their organizations forward. But how does this rapid growth in AI impact the skills and competencies in the field of leadership? This article will explore key points for executives to consider as their leadership evolves to support AI delivery

To fully appreciate the transformational force of AI, the above paragraph was not written by the author.  The initial paragraph was written by ChatGPT1. ChatGPT is a chatbot developed by OpenAI, launched in November 2022, which many of you will be aware of.

As the media storm around ChatGPT shows, AI has moved in to occupy practically every corner of our life.  From smart devices at home, to wearable health technology, to being deployed in Financial Services to support multiple use-cases, AI is becoming an integral part of the technology stack.   

Given the significant momentum behind AI, it is critical for leaders to understand how their leadership needs to evolve to support and drive this technology forward within their organizations. This paper focuses on this topic and looks to provide thoughts and direction for leaders as they look to lead their organization through the 4th Industrial Revolution. Specifically,

  • What leadership skills are required to drive AI adoption? 

  • How can Emotional Intelligence (EI) relate to supporting and delivering AI initiatives? 

  • What are the key considerations for leaders when enabling AI across the organisation? 

Leadership and AI

Daniel Goleman, one of the seminal thinkers and authors on leadership and Emotional Intelligence, has conducted extensive research on the role of Emotional Intelligence in leadership.  In his 2004 Harvard Business Review paper, ‘What Makes A Leader’, Goleman highlights 5 components of Emotional Intelligence that leaders require. 

EI ComponentDefinition Hallmark
  • The ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions, and drives, as well as their effect on others

  • Self-confidence

  • Realistic self-assessment

  • Self-deprecating sense of humour

  • The ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods

  • The propensity to suspend judgment—to think before acting

  • Trustworthiness and integrity

  • Comfort with ambiguity

  • Openness to change

  • A passion to work for reasons that go beyond money or status

  • A propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence

  • Strong drive to achieve

  • Optimism, even in the face of failure

  • Organizational commitment

  • The ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people

  • Skill in treating people according to their emotional reactions

  • Expertise in building and retaining talent

  • Cross-cultural sensitivity

  • Service to clients and customers

Social Skill
  • Proficiency in managing relationships and building networks

  • An ability to find common ground and build rapport

  • Effectiveness in leading change

  • Persuasiveness

  • Expertise in building and leading teams

Table 1. The 5 Components of Emotional Intelligence2

How can this model be applied to the delivery of AI Initiatives?  What attributes and considerations should leaders be aware of to support the delivery of AI initiatives? Table 2 addresses these questions and provides an assessment of 5 EI Components and how they relate to the delivery of AI.

EI Component Considerations for AI Leaders?
  • An understanding of AI technology and the potential for the organization with an awareness of the limitations and risks with AI

  • An ability to provide a realistic self-assessment of the results from AI initiatives

  • An awareness of biases in AI and empowering the team to have a questioning approach to interpreting AI results

  • Developing a culture that embraces change, ambiguity, and uncertainty as it relates to the delivery of AI, but also the impact to skills and resources

  • Optimism, especially when AI provides results that were not originally anticipated

  • A strong and focused pursuance of the goals and objectives of AI initiatives

  • Sensitivity to the impact AI may have on individual’s job functions

  • Fostering an inclusive organization where all employees can contribute and bring value to AI programs.

Social Skill
  • Listening to teams, their opinions, their views on the results and the outputs from the organizations AI efforts

  • Persuasiveness, but with an appreciation of different perspectives

Table 2. The 5 Components of Emotional Intelligence – Considerations for AI Leaders

By focusing on and addressing the above points, leaders can develop the necessary framework and considerations to deliver AI initiatives in their organization. This can empower leaders to be in a position to actively support their teams through their AI journey.

Mindset of Emotionally Intelligent Leaders

Following considerable research, Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck, discovered the concept called ‘Mindset’. Mindset can play a significant role in developing and supporting Emotionally Intelligent leaders looking to drive their AI initiatives.

The concept of Mindset is broken down into two different types 3. According to Dweck, those with a Fixed Mindset believe that their abilities and skills cannot develop or change. The introduction of new advances and applications with AI would gravely concern them, nor would they be keen on embracing or supporting these initiatives. However, those with a Growth Mindset appreciate that their abilities and skills are ever evolving and growing. Their view of introducing AI in the workplace would be greeted with excitement, enthusiasm and a drive to experiment.

Dweck notes that we all have different levels of Fixed and Growth Mindsets, depending on the situation. Dweck also points out that a Growth Mindset is something that can be taught and developed over time. Therefore, it becomes imperative for leaders looking to drive AI initiatives to develop and enhance a strong Growth Mindset in support of these activities.

A Growth Mindset, can enable leaders to:

  • possess an inquisitive approach to applying AI and seeking out opportunities where the organization may have significant volumes of client data, for example, that could yield interesting results by applying Machine Learning.

  • develop a culture that recognises the ambiguity and uncertainty that AI can introduce and see that as a challenge for the organization to embrace and drive their AI initiatives forward.

  • lead the organization with an optimism and steely persistence in ensuring the goals and objective of the organizations AI strategy are achieved.


Leading organizations through AI initiatives can be a daunting task for executives. The traditional leadership skillsets, developed and honed through the daily challenges and tasks presented to leaders require refinement and modifications to support AI initiatives. Looking at leadership through the lens of Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence and Carol Dweck’s Mindset, can provide leaders with further thoughts and considerations on how to evolve their leadership to support the delivery of AI initiatives.

Leaving the final paragraph to ChatGPT [1] “The advent of AI is presenting new challenges and opportunities for leaders across industries. As organizations seek to harness the power of AI to drive innovation and growth, leaders must evolve their approach to ensure success. This means developing a clear understanding of the technology and its potential impact, building a culture that embraces change, and fostering a diverse and inclusive organization where all employees can contribute to the development and implementation of AI solutions. By embracing these principles, leaders can position themselves and their organizations for success in the age of AI, and drive positive change for their employees, customers, and communities.”


1ChatGPT. [Online]. Available: https://chat.openai.com/chat. [Accessed 15 1 2023].

2D. Goleman, "What Makes A Leader," Harvard Business Review, 2004.

3C. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Ballantine Books, 2007.

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Ciaran Fennessy

Ciaran leads the Global Funds Services Strategy & Transformation team within Citi. .  Ciaran also lectures in AI and is a member of the Irish Funds FinTech Working Group.

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