What Has Machine Learning Got to Do with Leadership? (Quite a lot, actually.)

Organizations invest money in assessing, measuring, and modifying a leader’s behavior in the hopes that a few nudges can push the needle. This is not a wasted effort; there is much evidence to demonstrate that this is a worthwhile exercise. But can we do a better job at identifying and understanding a leader’s talents? Yes. And machine learning may be the key.

Setting a High Bar for Transformation

The conversation in the chairman’s office was serious. Sitting in high-backed leather seats around a highly polished table, we talked about the readiness or not of the business to change. The chairman was concerned, and indeed a little worried. 

Rather colorfully, he set the scene. “We’ve had the best mousetrap in the business for 57 years and achieved growth and outstanding levels of profitability. The landscape has changed, and we’ve been too slow to respond. As a result, I’m not sure I’ve got the right people to make the journey.”

Using Talent Analytics as a Storytelling Tool

Leaders are the “makers of meaning” for their organizations. They shape employees’ understanding of what matters to the business, its environment, and its future. When done well, a leader-as-storyteller strengthens the bond employees have with the organization. At its best, the result is a shift in perspective and increased clarity about what is needed, inspiring a “here’s-what-I-can-do” attitude that moves the organization closer toward the desired future.

We need to be able to tell a story with our data.

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