Tech & AI

The Power of Emotional Intelligence in AI Leadership: Leveraging Women's Strengths

Shubhi Rao

Founder & CEO, Uplevyl

Last week, I wrote a short piece on: “Women Leading the AI Age: Leveraging Strengths and Seizing Opportunities.” Today, we will delve deeper into the realm of leadership and its crucial role in driving innovation and positive outcomes. While we often associate technical expertise and analytical skills with AI, I firmly believe that we should not ignore Emotional Intelligence (EI), which is vital to shaping the future of AI leadership.

In this article, I explore the significance of EI in AI leadership and specifically focus on the unique strengths that women possess, which can be harnessed to drive the future of AI leadership.

What Is Emotional Intelligence

To comprehend the importance of EI, let us first define it. Joanne Frederick, a licensed professional mental health counselor, defines EI as follows:

"the ability to use, understand, and manage one's own emotions in a positive way, and to manage stress, communicate effectively, de-escalate issues, problem solve, and empathize with other people."

These traits are often demonstrated abundantly by women. While women may be currently underrepresented in the AI sector, the exceptional strengths that women possess in EI can play a significant role in shaping the future of AI leadership.

The Role of Emotional Intelligence in AI Leadership

AI is a rapidly evolving field that requires teams to work together, collaborate, and innovate.

For teams to freely exchange ideas, take risks, and unleash their creativity, it is imperative to have leaders who embody EI. These leaders foster relationships, establish trust, and create a sense of psychological safety that empowers team members. To achieve this, leaders must attentively listen, empathize, and genuinely understand the perspectives of their teams, colleagues, and partners.

Arati Marya and Zaynah Vohra, partners at Deloitte Middle East, emphasize that this empathetic leadership style is often overlooked in traditional models but is a crucial component of building a successful and inclusive workplace.

Creating a Compassionate and Inclusive Workplace

As we work alongside technology and other humans, it is crucial to understand our own skills, goals, and challenges. Employees increasingly want leaders who adopt a compassionate approach to management, as highlighted by KPMG Insights.

Women leaders, with their innate ability to create spaces where employees can drive their personal growth and have a sense of belonging, help contribute to higher levels of innovation, collaboration, and productivity.

Navigating Conflict and Building Stronger Team Dynamics

Conflicts are inevitable in any work environment, and AI leadership is no exception. In particular, AI raises ethical concerns and dilemmas that require thoughtful consideration and decision-making. EI helps leaders navigate these challenges by understanding the impact of AI on society, empathizing with stakeholders and making ethical choices.

According to a 2016 study by Korn Ferry, women tend to score higher than men in EI categories related to influencing others, managing conflict effectively, and fostering growth. The EI that women possess helps foster environments where conflicts can be seen as opportunities to drive healthy discussions, personal growth, and stronger team dynamics.

The Balance Between Data-Driven Decision-Making and Human Perspectives

As AI becomes more integrated into organizations, there is a risk of over-relying solely on data-driven decision-making processes. However, leaders with high EI understand the importance of balancing data-driven rational analysis with human perspectives. This balance ensures inclusivity in the decision-making process and helps mitigate risks.

As Derek Steer points out, “the more data we use in AI and machine learning, the more valuable — and necessary — human reasoning becomes, as we still need to interpret what our models and forecasts mean for our business processes.”

Embracing Change and Overcoming Adversity

As we embark upon the AI age and prepare for profound changes, leaders with high EI are crucial to help their teams and organizations navigate through these transformations. Julie Thompson notes that women tend to bounce back slightly quicker than men in the face of adversity. This trait becomes immensely valuable as leaders to guide their teams in embracing the rapidly changing technological world and transformation.

Breaking Down Barriers for Women in AI

To fully harness the rapid advancement of AI, we must address the barriers that prevent women from fully participating in the field. Organizations must examine roles suitable for AI-based automation, particularly with consideration to its impact on women. Simultaneously, initiatives should be undertaken to help women leverage their EI and other transferable skills.

Providing opportunities for women to develop technical and leadership skills is vital to empower them to assume decision-making roles in AI.

At Uplevyl, we recognize the importance of EI in the realm of AI leadership. We further recognize the unique strengths women possess in this area that can shape the future of leadership in this fast developing discipline. We also recognize the importance of technical expertise and emotional intelligence coexisting harmoniously. These are the building blocks of a thriving AI leadership landscape. It is our collective responsibility therefore to break down barriers, provide equal opportunities, and empower women to unleash their full potential in this rapidly advancing field.