Artificial Intelligence and leadership: How the use of AI systems succeeds
Munich, 16 May 2022
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the world of work – and with it leadership in companies and institutions. AI systems can relieve managers of routine tasks and free up time for personnel management, strategic planning and change management in the AI age. However, the AI-supported automation of management tasks raises data protection and labor law issues as well as organizational questions and can therefore unsettle employees. People must always remain at the center, say the authors of a recent white paper from Plattform Lernende Systeme. What is needed is a management culture based on participation, openness and transparency.
AI systems can relieve managers of repetitive standardizable tasks and automate processes, such as the creation of duty rosters, task allocation or budget control. Using machine learning methods, they can analyze large amounts of operational data or metrics in a short time to assist with evaluation and strategic decision-making. AI systems can also support managers in their duty of care, for example by warning them of burnout.
“Artificial Intelligence can make an important contribution to human-centric collaborative leadership. By relieving managers of operational tasks, assistance and automation systems create space for good people management, innovation and strategic foresight. Managers can focus on their human strengths and the essential aspects of modern leadership: Creative problem solving, employee motivation and coaching, and open and appreciative communication with employees,” says Rahild Neuburger, an expert in communication and leadership at the LMU Munich School of Management and a member of Plattform Lernende Systeme.
What executives need to consider when sharing work with AI systems
At the same time, the use of AI systems in the company sets changes in motion and presents employees with far-reaching organizational and labor law challenges, such as the basis on which AI systems can issue instructions. Shaping this change together with employees is becoming a central task for managers.
One risk of using AI, for example, is losing sight of the people behind the data due to the key figures and statistics evaluated by the AI system, the experts warn in the white paper. “AI systems can take over management tasks that were previously the sole responsibility of humans. For example, they can help managers create individualized curricula for employee training. To do so, AI will need to work with sensitive, personal data. The fear that a computer program’s calculations can influence personnel policy, further training opportunities or career prospects can be psychologically stressful and demotivating for employees,” says Sascha Stowasser, director of ifaa – Institute for Applied Work Science and member of Plattform Lernende Systeme. “It is therefore important that managers fulfill their duty of care by paying attention to health protection, making the use of the AI system transparent, critically questioning AI recommendations and involving employees in the design of the new processes.”
Especially when AI systems process employees’ personal or performance-related data, the protection of people’s data and privacy rights must be ensured. For example, learning data from training can promote employees’ career advancement. However, managers could also misuse the data to monitor and control performance. The authors recommend that AI systems in leadership be certified according to their risk potential and that only certified systems be used to prevent misuse. The data on which AI systems perform leadership tasks should be determined in close consultation with employees and their representative bodies. In addition, managers should be prepared for dealing with the AI systems and sensitive data.
About the white paper
The white paper “Leadership in Transition: Challenges and Opportunities through Artificial Intelligence” was written by members of the Future of Work and Human-Machine Interaction working group of Plattform Lernende Systeme. It is available for download (in German) free of charge.
Further publications and application scenarios of the working group (in German) deal with the transformation of the working world through the use of AI systems.