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4 Leadership Communication Skills That AI Can’t Take Over

Posted by Sandy Yu on 8.27.2019


"It's up to you to learn the skills that cannot be automated,” Jeanne Meister explained in a recent Forbes interview. And our team at EmployeeChannel couldn’t agree more, especially when it comes to leadership communication skills.

Automation is making employee communication easier than ever. Actually, according to Meister, it’s even creating safer and healthier work environments. In her research of AI technology, she found employees at some companies are using AI chatbots to report potential harassment and discrimination problems, as discussed in her Forbes interview. 

As a leader, there’s little more exciting than knowing employees feel comfortable sharing information, even when it’s with a bot. However, to Meister’s overarching point, some skills simply can't be automated. Many leadership communication skills can’t be replicated by computers. They are skills that will remain crucial for workplaces for centuries, whether employees are sitting at a desk in your office or are around the world. 

It’s critical to allow technology to simplify your life. It’s even more critical to put the new time you have to use by upskilling your leadership communication skills. Here’s are the skills you’ll forever need to work on -- no matter how intelligent robots become: 


Bots can't connect with employees on an emotional level. They’re giving employees the safety and freedom to open-up anonymously, yes. Some can even read emotional cues as they read faces and recognize speech. 

It’s important to remember, though, that reading and understanding are separate. Empathy is the act of understanding someone else’s emotions and experiences. By practicing empathy, leaders can build relationships and offer the appropriate support employees need to lead successful careers and healthy lives. 

Understanding non-verbal cues

Many successful leaders argue that talking isn’t the most important part of workplace communication. They say listening is the top leadership communication skill. With listening comes the ability to see, not just hear. 

Communication with your team is just as much non-verbal as it is verbal. Bots can’t connect a person’s physical reaction to their verbal cues. Then, combine the two to assess how to approach the conversation. They can’t interpret if someone is uncomfortable, discouraged, or mentally and physically fatigues and put that information to use during a real-life conversation. 

Additionally, bots don’t have their own body language. You, as a leader, can adjust your posture in a way that’s welcoming. You can make eye contact when you sense someone needs comfort or smile when they need to be encouraged to open up. 

Relating to employees with vulnerability

You’ve likely been through more experiences than you can count. Career mistakes, missed opportunities, failures, successes -- your combined experiences make you human. Understanding how to use those experiences to make yourself vulnerable is a skill only humans can possess. 

Using vulnerability to relate with employees increases psychological safety throughout the workplace. They can see how your experiences really weren’t that different from theirs and that even in a position of leadership, you’re not perfect. 

Motivating and engaging employees

Meister explained in the above Forbes interview that, “In an era of low unemployment, we want to keep the people we have and give them opportunities to move into new roles.” That’s why developers have created AI that assesses certifications, achievements, credentials, and capabilities. The machines use these factors to match employees with job openings where they’ll excel. 

AI can find the best fitting roles for your employees. It also identifies where they need to upskill to grow in their career. However, it can’t motivate and engage employees as they move into new roles. Leaders will always need to set their employees on a specific path that is beneficial for both them and the company.  Aside from setting up a path, they need to be on the side of the path cheering and motivating and supporting employees the entire way. 

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Topics: leadership communication

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