With all the benefits AI can bring to business, there are two areas that I believe it will never replace: creative brand building and identifying great leadership.
I previously wrote about AI and the resurgence of brand building a few months ago but as more companies start to leverage AI in their recruiting practices, it is important to understand its benefits and limitations. We are seeing AI being used in recruiting as the "first filter" for inbound resumes along with scanning public data to find talent. Both of these use cases are significant time savers but both have their limitations, especially when hiring executive talent. Similar to friendship or love, finding the right leader for a specific company is a personal match. An executive that thrives in one business may fail in another and what looks good in a profile may be the absolute opposite once met in person. In all my years recruiting, I have never seen an executive that can fit into any company or succeed in any environment. Each company is special and each candidate is unique.
In running a series of tests, we've also seen that AI can overlook potential top candidates who don't have a robust online presence or LInkedIn profile that the machine can pick up. The way executive recruiting works is that the recruiting partner starts with research, developing company and candidate target lists. This is a labor-intensive process that involves a tremendous amount of time and research. Without a doubt, machine learning can accelerate this work, scanning and surfacing public data but the best recruiting firms view this list as only the starting point to a search. The real recruiting begins when recruiters go beyond the public data and titles and a recruiter's network is fully activated. Great recruiters have their ear to the ground, listening to learn who the true talents are—often hidden one layer below the established c-suite leaders or already a multi-time c-suite leader who choses to keep their head down in their work instead of building a public profile.
Beyond the research and identification of prospective candidates, AI will never replace the intimate and personal understanding of the human condition and what motivates or hinders a person's ability to successfully lead a team and grow a company. While it would be fantastic if there were a clear formula for leadership, it is simply impossible because leaders, employees and buyers are all human. As humans, we are guided by emotions that influence our decisions, actions and relationships. Companies succeed because of the people they hire and how they execute across various areas, particularly how leaders personally inspire and develop others. It is this intimate understanding of the human condition that both challenges leaders and makes them great and is something that a machine will never be able to fully replicate or assess for.
The rapid adoption of AI has been outstanding on society and business alike. It is changing the way we work and I, personally, am getting a tremendous amount of benefit from leveraging AI in certain areas of my work. But, the more I experiment with AI, the more I am seeing the shortfall. Human interaction is simply too complex and too personal for a machine to understand and it is only another human who has the ability to relate, assess and hire.