Tech Leadership

Unlocking GenAI’s potential: 5 essential skills for C-suite leaders

06 December 2023 • 4 min read

A person gesturing with their hands in front of a laptop screen

The use of GenAI is rapidly expanding, and it is expected to revolutionise the way businesses operate. However, the adoption of GenAI requires specific skills and knowledge from leadership teams to ensure successful implementation.


In this blog post, we discuss the vital leadership skills necessary for unlocking the full potential of GenAI.

The role of leadership teams in GenAI adoption

Leadership teams play a critical role in the successful adoption of GenAI. It’s not enough to rely solely on curiosity and discretionary effort from individuals; the adoption of GenAI requires sustained c-suite buy-in. That’s why leaders must prioritise the adoption of GenAI as a fundamental organisational priority, enabling top-down sponsorship. 

Further to this point, the democratic nature of the technology has created an expectation that organisations should have their own viewpoint and set an agenda that will guide their people, with the overwhelming feedback being that AI adoption "shouldn't be led by the IT dept." Therefore, leadership must establish governance and guardrails to enable experimentation without the constraints of fear.


The 5 essential GenAI skills for C-suite leaders:

1. Combining top-down and bottom-up approaches to AI implementation

Smart leaders will combine top-down and bottom-up approaches to GenAI adoption to drive success. People may be fearful of new technology - especially if they’re worried that it will replace them or significantly alter the scope and remit of their job. With that in mind, it’s essential to establish governance and put in place guardrails that provide people with the freedom to explore how AI can make a positive impact to their role and team.

Additionally, staff should be encouraged to ask questions such as "where should we get started with deriving organisational value from this technology?" to ensure the adoption of GenAI is a genuine enabler rather than a diktat from management.

2. Managing future skills in the age of AI

Successful leaders must ensure they are managing the future skills necessary for GenAI adoption. With the rise of citizen-led development as well as low-code and no-code AI applications, AI is fast becoming a skill that is relevant for the entire workforce, not just data scientists and engineers. To support this, it’s critical that leaders can clearly explain and justify their usage of AI across the organisation, fostering a culture of trust and transparency.

3. Fostering communication and collaboration

As we’ve already touched upon, fostering communication and collaboration is a critical step in enabling successful GenAI adoption. Experimentation and encouragement are paramount, and the proper pathways must be in place to facilitate continuous learning. Savvy leaders can maximise buy-in from their people and teams by ensuring that they're creating organic, practical, useful learning experiences, rather than purely academic ones.

4. Preparing people for change

We’ve already established that job roles are likely to change as a result of AI. Therefore, it’s critical that leaders work proactively with their people to prepare them for the fact that their roles will change, making the process a participative one rather than a dictatorial one. This can be framed in a positive way, highlighting the personal growth and skill-building opportunities that will arise from more widespread AI adoption. After all, AI has the potential to free people from some of their mundane tasks, so they can focus on more interesting, higher-value work that requires human ingenuity.

Prompt engineering is likely to be key to this, and individuals need to understand how different tools can improve their effectiveness, so that they can leverage them appropriately. To ensure that change management is as smooth as possible, leaders must ensure that they avoid making sweeping, off-the-cuff statements around the impacts of AI that may cause unintended worry or concern amongst their people.

5. Managing regulation and its impact on GenAI adoption

Last but by no means least, compliance and legal must be part of the conversation from the beginning to enable a two-way dialogue that protects the organisation from potential harms, without stifling innovation at an individual and team level. Policies related to AI governance must be comprehensible and useful to people, and controls must be implemented to prevent unintended discrimination.

Conclusion: the key steps for AI success

Leadership teams play a critical role in the successful adoption of GenAI, and for leadership teams looking to take on competitors in efficiency, innovation and speed to value, prioritising GenAI adoption will be key. Combining top-down and bottom-up approaches, managing future skills, and fostering communication and collaboration are critical to enable successful GenAI adoption.

Having the right people, with the right skills is key to maximising the value of AI. Whether there’s a lack of GenAI skills in your team, or a lack of actual people to focus on GenAI, AND Digital can help. Visit our GenAI Hub to learn how we guide your ideation and proof of concept phase, how we help you build and leverage AI faster, and how we equip your team with the skills they need to innovate ahead of competitors.

Tech Leadership

Related Posts