Give Me 3 Minutes and I’ll Let You in on My Biggest Prediction for Leaders in 2024

Have you ever been a parent to a teenager? Then you've experienced what it's like when they first realize their newfound power—when they discover they have autonomy, agency, and independence. 

It’s overwhelming, isn’t it? Sure, you want your child to grow into a free-thinking adult, but, oof, that rebellious phase can be brutal. You’re left to wonder: 

“How much freedom should I give them?”

“What’s within my control?”

“What decisions can I still make?”

My kids are well past this stage, but I remember it well. And as I forecast what is in store for leaders in the coming year, I see this same scenario playing out in nearly every organization around the globe. 

I shared a handful of key priorities for the next 12 months in my latest Leading Disruption newsletter, but one stood out. My biggest prediction for 2024? Leadership itself will change completely.

Just as you must change how you parent a toddler and a teenager, leaders must change how they lead teams adopting generative AI technologies.

You must shift from managing tasks to managing people. Until recently, you were likely promoted because you knew how to do the job better than anyone else, but now, with AI, employees are getting their hands on these tools, and they’re beginning to feel like those teenagers who’ve discovered a renewed sense of power. They can do so much more than they ever could before, and, as with any good rebellious phase, they’ll start to leverage that power.

They won’t need to wait for permission. They won’t sit quietly. Because when they see untapped potential, they’ll speak out and ask why their teams aren’t moving faster. They can and will get the job done—even without you. 

As their manager, you’re facing not just an evolution but a revolution on the part of your employees who want to use AI to improve their jobs, likely so they can accomplish more. And although that’s undoubtedly a good thing, this new power dynamic will require you to reassess your relationship with your AI-enabled employees. How you lead them will have to change. A step further, you’ll have to lead the change—this transformation surrounding generative AI—itself. 

Are managers, collectively, ready for this monumental mindset shift? 

From my vantage point, the answer is no.

Leaders have never had the privilege of managing superhumans before! 

But they can be if they make generative AI leadership development a top priority for 2024. Knowing that this change is coming is key and preparing for it is essential.

Leaders will need humility—but also confidence!—to shift their roles from expert to guide or facilitator. They will need to ask great questions, not just deliver answers. They must keep everyone focused on purpose and objectives. 

At the same time, they’ll need to offer reassurance. Especially if the organization’s strategy is unclear, as many right now are, teams will have questions about their prospects with AI. 

Double down on investing in your relationships with your teams. Be as transparent as possible about what is happening. Show your commitment to figuring it out together. 

It makes you kind of miss those angsty teen years, huh?

— Charlene

What I Can’t Stop Talking About: 

  • Why AI-generated text is unlikely to replace literature written by people. Check out this quote from Sheila Heti, author of According to Alice, in The New York Times: “The real stuff is invented out of a human longing to know and connect, and that’s where the beauty of art comes from.” 

  • Working mom guilt. All this talk about parenting has me recalling the endless guilt I had when my kids were young. Being a working mom is one of the most disruptive experiences, but all these years later, my kids have told me that they’re thankful for the version of a mom they did get.

  • The disruption fallacy. I hear it all the time: “Disruption must drive growth.” But that’s backward. Here’s why.

  • Participate in a research survey. In gathering insights for the book Threats, Bets & No Regrets, I’ve found that standard-issue surveys don’t dig deep enough, and traditional interviews are too complicated to pull off at scale. I’m now using AI-moderated surveys hosted by Outset and would love for you to see how it works. (Your organization needs to have revenues of at least $100 million to participate in the survey.)  

My Latest: 

  • 2024 predictions. I try to avoid casting “predictions” about the future. Still, I have a list of critical priorities that leaders, particularly those shaping transformative strategies for their organizations, should consider for 2024 and beyond. Watch my latest livestream or read my LinkedIn newsletter for my take on when custom GPTs are most valuable—and when you’re better off just sticking with the generic version.

  • HR and AI. Calling all Chief People Officers! It may be called human resources, but I’d venture to say that no department stands to see as much of an impact from artificial intelligence as HR. To learn how AI and HR can—or, rather, must—work together, tune in to my next livestream on Tuesday, Jan. 9, at 9 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. ET on LinkedIn and Facebook Live.

  • Employee AI apprehension. As I mentioned in this newsletter, leaders will navigate more uncertainty than ever—not just externally. Employees inside the organization deserve sound strategies that address and mitigate their concerns around AI. I’ll be sharing some of those in the Jan. 16 livestream at 9 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. ET.

  • Q&A with Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda. If you’ve ever taken an online course, you likely have Jeff to thank! I’m thrilled to interview him later this month on how executives can use generative AI. You won’t want to miss it, so mark your calendars for Jan. 23 at 9 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. ET! More details to come.

My Upcoming Appearances:

Thank you for subscribing to the Disruption Dispatch, which goes out to thousands of disruptors every other week to help you on your disruption journey—plus a curated recommendation list of a few Good Things I’m enjoying. 

Want more? Check out my weekly publication, Leading Disruption, on LinkedIn.

If you found this note helpful, please forward and share it with someone who needs the inspiration today. If you were forwarded this, please consider subscribing.

And tune into the livestream on Jan 16 for more on how to address employee apprehensions about AI taking their jobs.

Charlene Li

If you found this note helpful, please forward and share it with someone who needs the inspiration today. If you were forwarded this, please consider subscribing.