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Needed: Visionary Leadership for the Generative AI Era

Chief Project Engineer Holds Briefing for a Team of Scientists that are Building Machine Learning System. Displays Show Working Model of Neural Network.
AI isn't just a tech question—all senior leaders need a strategy to move their organizations into the future. Here's a start.

Ready or not, the business world is entering the era of generative artificial intelligence (GenAI). GenAI is going mainstream as consumers increasingly use GenAI in their personal and professional lives.

According to a recent KPMG survey, 58 percent of consumers said GenAI has a significant impact on their professional lives now, and 77 percent believe it will have a significant impact on their professional lives in two years.

The technology is kickstarting the next wave of business transformation and innovation and will disrupt entire industries. For organizations to grow in this new landscape, visionary leadership will be crucial because this is not a technology question—these are business model, talent and strategy questions.

While anticipating and outpacing compound volatility—the combination of near-term risks to growth today and structural changes to the economy—business leaders need foresight to see how GenAI will impact their business in the next three to five years and act quickly and boldly to set a strategy in motion that will lead their organizations into the future.

Here are some steps business leaders can take today:

Use GenAI to understand its impact across the business

A comprehensive understanding of how GenAI will impact different areas of the organization is vital for all senior leaders across the business—not just the CTO or CIO. Customer interactions and experiences are enriched through AI-powered personalization and recommendation systems in the front office. The middle office, encompassing operations and decision-making processes, can benefit from GenAI’s ability to analyze large datasets and provide valuable insights. And GenAI can help streamline processes, automate repetitive tasks and improve efficiency in the back office.

A vision and strategy around all three of these areas is critical, as is articulating the timeline for action and impact in these areas. AI should contribute positively to how all stakeholders feel about an organization. Customers should realize greater value—not roadblocks—when engaging with a company’s AI-powered systems, for example.

As a starting point, leaders should use GenAI regularly to get a feel for this dynamic. I’ve challenged the leaders who report to me to have an AI-first mindset and use the technology in their day-to-day work, so they can uncover and identify new opportunities.

Enhance your trusted AI framework to move quickly with guardrails

When confronted with uncertainty, it’s natural to want to slow down. But GenAI capabilities are developing quickly with companies across industries jumping in headfirst to seize a competitive advantage.

Organizations have processes and relationships in place today that need to be reviewed, broadened and enhanced to move with both speed and responsibility as they adopt GenAI. We advise clients to think of this roadmap as a highway with guardrails, not a gravel road with speed bumps.

A robust framework for the ethical development and use of GenAI is the necessary groundwork for the responsible and trustworthy use of the technology within the organization. Ensuring the accuracy and integrity of large data sets used in GenAI systems is important too, and third-party attestations or audits can help in this area.

Think deeply about driving workforce behavior shifts

Meaningful progress will be rooted in how quickly your people engage with these capabilities. Early use cases may lead to GenAI adoption among certain types of workers, while simultaneously turning off others. Empower employees to embrace and use GenAI alongside the necessary training and upskilling resources. By fostering a culture of continuous learning, employees feel encouraged to explore and experiment with GenAI.

Communicate the vision, value and potential of GenAI and highlight how it can improve productivity, decision-making and creativity. Involve employees in the process of integrating GenAI into their workflows and encourage them to share their expertise and insights to foster collaboration and best practice sharing.

At its heart, this is a change management process. When leaders set a clear vision and strategy, it gives employees confidence. As GenAI continues to evolve and new applications are discovered, strategy resets become an integral aspect of effective change management.

In the GenAI era, visionary leadership in action is a must. As decisions are made, diverse thinking and perspectives will be needed to arrive at the best outcomes. Through their guidance and investments, leaders can harness the game-changing power of GenAI to drive innovation, improve customer experiences and gain a competitive edge. The alternative—maintaining the status quo while your organization or industry is disrupted—is a risky alternative.


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