There’s no doubt that technology has changed, and in many ways, disrupted, so many aspects of our both our personal and professional lives. It’s effected the way we share, connect, communicate, consume, interact, and collect information.

Do you remember life before Facebook or Twitter? Before iPhones, Netflix, Amazon, Yelp, Waze, YouTube, Spotify, and Alexa? Before self-driving cars, drones, and self-check-out stations at Whole Foods?

I sure do! Ahhh… life was so simple back then, right?!

But guess what?

It ain’t goin’ back.

Technological advancements are just getting started! At present, the rise of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) – and platforms like ChatGPT – has taken the world, especially the business world, by storm.

Despite obvious advantages that A.I. can provide, to our lives and to our businesses (sophisticated A.I. can do many tasks faster, 24/7, with more accuracy, and without complaining or asking for a raise), it is also creating a tremendous amount of panic and anxiety around people ‘losing jobs to or being replaced by robots.’

But just like the list above, A.I. ain’t goin’ anywhere. It is here and it’s here to stay and it will only increase in popularity, usage, and functionality.

So now there is a distinct fork in the road and leaders have a pivotal decision to make:

Do I ignore, resist, and rebel against the A.I. wave?

Or do I ride the wave?

Do I lean in with an open mind, accept, adjust, acclimate, and learn how to use A.I. to enhance my work, my productivity, and my influence/impact?

I plan to do the ladder. In fact, I’ve already jumped in with two feet and am using both ChatGPT (no, ChatGPT did NOT write this post!) and Render Media (who has created Artificial Alan, my video Digital Twin!).

Let’s look at what you, as a leader, can do to make sure you will never be replaced by A.I., no matter how sophisticated or advanced the technology gets.

A.I. can’t create a strong, winning team-culture (but you can!)

The most effective leaders and most successful companies understand that it’s the people who make it possible for an organization to achieve long-term success. They acknowledge that regardless of their product or service, they are in the relationship business. At its core, every business requires people (team members) serving people (customers).

With that said, they full accept that technology (and in this case, A.I.) can help them do that much more efficiently and effectively.

But it’s still people serving people.

Amazon, one of the most technologically advanced companies on the planet, and who is as the forefront of using A.I… still has just over 1.5 million employees. Yes, I said 1.5 MILLION.

Effective leaders understand that team member engagement – how safe, included, respected, valued, and appreciated one feels at their job – has nothing to do with the implementation of modern technology. Instead, it has everything to do with the organization’s culture, core values, mission, and sense of contribution.

Effective leaders realize that building a strong connection with their team members, leading by example, and inspiring them to be and achieve more, they can sustain high productivity and high performance.

And that’s something A.I. can’t do.

So, instead of worrying about how you’ll never be able to ‘compete against a robot’, focus on building a purpose-driven vision for your team, create a strong bond between your team members, and inspire them to be a part of something truly special… something bigger than themselves.

Be the type of leader who makes it a priority to truly know your people, support your people, encourage your people, and empower your people.

Making your team feel safe, included, respected, valued, and appreciated is something that ‘a robot’ will never be able to do.

A.I. is about data, not guidance 

Prior to becoming a corporate keynote speaker, I spent my entire life in the basketball world. After playing through college, I became a performance coach and had an opportunity to work with some of the top players on the planet.

Basketball taught me so many valuable lessons about the importance of teamwork and showed me how much of an impact the guidance of a quality coach (leader) can have… on and off the court.

In 2015, I served as the performance coach for the boys’ basketball program at DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, MD. I had the great privilege of working for one of the finest leaders I’ve ever met, Coach Mike Jones. Coach Jones taught me countless life lessons that have helped shape the man I am today.

Here’s one example:

With less than 30 seconds left in the second overtime of the 2015 WCAC Conference Championship, we (DeMatha) were down 10 points.

To everyone’s surprise (including mine), Coach Jones called a time-out.

As our team huddled up… you could tell from their dejected facial expressions and sullen body language that they knew the game was over.

Why would Coach Jones call a time-out in a game we could not win? To teach the team a lesson they would carry with them for the rest of their lives.

“Please pick your heads up and look at me. We are obviously not going to win tonight.

We let this one get away. It’s OK to be disappointed, I know I am. But it is not OK to show poor sportsmanship. We will lose with class, we will lose with our heads high, and we will lose graciously. They outplayed us tonight. Period. No excuses. This program is bigger than you and bigger than this moment. We will learn from this, and we will use it as fuel moving forward. No go out there and LOSE like WINNERS.”

Our team hustled back on the court and played hard for the remaining 30 seconds.

There was nothing fun about watching their fans storm the court, seeing their team celebrate, and watching them hoist the championship trophy overhead. But there was a quiet inner peace in knowing that we lost with class.

Although losing is never fun, the way Coach Jones guided our team made us lose with class and leave the court with our heads held high. It taught us a valuable lesson about accepting both the ups and the downs. And how handling the downs with poise and grace speaks volumes of someone’s character.

You see, if we would look at the exact same story through the lens of technology, a world of 1’s and 0’s, the data would show a sterile final score… and that’s where the story would end.

But it was the guidance of a world-class coach that taught an invaluable life lesson that day and makes this story something worth remembering.

Effective leadership and sound guidance will always be irreplaceable. Data can us show how things are, but it doesn’t provide insight into how things feel.

And feeling matters. A lot.

In times of adversity and challenge, your team will always look for you (as their leader) for guidance, direction, and support… not data.

It’s not you vs. A.I… It’s you and A.I.

The most effective leaders in business today understand that it is not them versus A.I. (adversaries), it’s them and A.I. (allies). They recognize that A.I. is a powerful tool when it comes to analyzing data, making predictions, recognizing patterns, and automating certain functions of their business.

They choose not to fear technology, but rather embrace it.

They choose to use technology to supplement their team’s talents, not replace them.

They choose to live by the adage, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”

Let’s take a closer look at your marketing department, which in 2023, is most likely heavily involved in creating content for social media (posts, blogs, podcasts, videos, etc.).

Your team can use A.I. tools (like ChatGPT) to help with copywriting and research.

Your team can use A.I. tools to edit photos and do voice overs for videos.

Your team can use A.I. as a starting point to brainstorm ideas and generate initial momentum (which is a massive time saver).A.I. is simply a tool that make your team’s work efficient and effective.

A hammer doesn’t replace a carpenter, it enhances them.

The same is true for A.I.

Let me leave you with a thought from my friend and colleague, the brilliant Mitch Joel (who has an insightful new keynote about this topic):

“The pace of change driven by A.I. in recent years is astounding, and it has the potential to continue disrupting businesses in the future. Let’s explore how it’s driving better ideation, creativity, and storytelling. A.I. is already revolutionizing idea generation by analyzing massive amounts of data and providing insights that were previously unattainable to anyone on your team. While there are undoubtedly concerns about the impact of A.I. on society, it’s critical to know and use the current platforms for positive business change.”