It was New Year’s just yesterday, and no one was talking about it.

Now, the writers are talking about it. The marketers are talking about it. The programmers are talking about it. The lawyers and accountants are talking about it.

Artificial Intelligence.

ChatGTP. Jasper. Bard. Or any of the 1000 new AI-based tools already hitting the market.

A common benchmark for new technologies is how soon they reach 100M users.

The telephone took 75 years. The world wide web took seven years. Instagram? 2.5 years.

ChatGTP hit the mark in two months.

Between writing blog posts, creating social updates, weekly menus, poetry, and fiction, we’re still exploring what tools like ChatGTP can do.

But it’s clear (for now, at least) that there are things AI can’t do.

It can’t – truly – create. It can’t strategize. It can’t feel. It can’t empathize.

And it can’t lead.

Here are five leadership actions that still need the human touch:

Leaders Question

From consultant to analyst to the formal project leader, one way every team member can display leadership is by asking questions:

  • Why are we doing it this way?
  • Is this the right thing to do?
  • Have we tried this before?
  • What challenges does it solve?
  • Is it creating any new issues we need to address?
  • Are we doing this just because someone called it a best practice or because we always do it this way?

Getting answers from people in different roles can bring a broader range of expertise to bear on team decisions.

Leaders Challenge

Several years ago, I was part of a small project team at a customer site. One of the team members was underperforming, and being a small team, it was obvious.

Ralph was the team lead and he had a great style. He made it clear to everyone that we needed to do our homework, then come to the table with a point of view. We then had to present that first to the team and then to the client.

The underperforming team member rose to the challenge and started coming to the table more after that.

Ralph’s approach inspired me to challenge the teams I lead in similar ways.

Leaders Collaborate

I’m a proponent of servant leadership, defined as:

“…focusing primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.” I try to give my team members the opportunities and tools to exhibit leadership, perform their work, and achieve their goals.

But leadership isn’t a one-way street.

I also rely on team members to collaborate, advise, and provide input to me.

For example, I’m working to collaborate better and more frequently with our finance department. We’re learning that our work is more connected now that we’re both using SAP S4. My inputs directly affect their financial reporting.

As a project manager, I need to do a better job of putting my forecasts in. If I do that, the financials they generate will be more accurate.

Leaders Learn

Every day is a learning curve with its own challenges.

We have a new tool called Passport. It’s used to store configuration values, report on what those values are, track changes to them, and get signoffs on those changes.

I didn’t know how to use it, and my team wasn’t strong on it either.

I found some training videos to watch. Then I got access to the demo environment and poked around to learn even more.

I became the local subject matter expert on this tool and can now help my team take better advantage of it.

Leaders Communicate

I try to be a clear communicator. I like establishing expectations clearly and creating an environment where people feel free to speak up.

I’m working to improve communication by including team members that might otherwise feel isolated due to their location.

I lead project managers in the US, Canada, Ireland, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore.

I have weekly delivery meetings with these groups, and they can be hard to schedule. I have to flex to accommodate everyone. During some meetings, it’s already evening our time, but that’s what works for them.

I’ll also bring topics from one regional meeting back to another just to ensure the entire team is collaborating on solutions.

Not Yet, ChatGTP

One day, maybe more of these actions will be able to be done by AI. But for now and the foreseeable future, leadership is a human domain.