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Generative AI Strategies for CEOs

7 min read

CEOs face an ever evolving landscape which requires complex and careful decision-making. Generative AI technologies are now widely being adopted for navigating these complexities and streamlining decision-making, with many CEOs already utilizing them for commercial gain.

In a recent IBM poll, 75% of the CEOs surveyed believed a competitive advantage will hinge on who has the most advanced generative AI capabilities, with 43% already using generative AI to inform their strategic decisions. Using this technology as an aid, CEOs can leverage AI to assist in making decisions on everything from new product launches to assessing risk.

With CEOs under mounting pressure, generative AI provides leaders with strategic-level assistance for what is becoming an increasingly challenging job. Here is how such advantages can be achieved. 

Strategic and specific decision-making

Generative AI uses an extensive underlying data-set, along with access to real-time information, to create ideas and solve complex problems. However, for CEOs, its potential lies in context-based answers. Known as ‘grounding context’, this involves inputting initial information to achieve a context-based answer. This means loading extensive information about the business into a system like ChatGPT, prior to asking decision-making prompts.

Coursera’s CEO, for example, created a 320-page document covering the entirety of the business, including products, competitors, company objectives, organizational structure and even managerial review processes. Alongside company information, the document included market trends data and McKinsey strategy reports. Moreover, CEOs can enhance the grounding context by leveraging the subject matter expertise within their organization - by involving experts from various departments and disciplines, the data used by generative AI tools can be enriched.

Using generative AI in this way can sharpen a CEO’s decision-making across multiple areas of the business, from analyzing trends to suggesting strategies; for instance, before launching a new product, querying its market viability, competitor responses and potential customer reception.

Likewise, it could be used when considering expansion, evaluating risks and assessing the regulatory landscape.

This is not about relinquishing control to AI, but is instead about using it to provide comprehensive, data-driven viewpoints for CEOs to act upon decisively, whilst also reducing pressure and saving time. Vishen Lakhiani, the CEO of Mindvalley, recently described how he "shaved an hour" off his day thanks to generative AI.

A double-edged sword

The benefits provided by generative AI are not without their challenges. While its promise for strategic insight and innovation are undeniable, these can clash with data security concerns, bias, and ethical use.

At least 50% of the CEOs surveyed are integrating generative AI into products and services, despite 57% holding concerns about data security and 48% holding concerns about bias and data accuracy. Similarly, 64% of the CEOs worry about AI’s ‘unintended consequences’, while 67% also believe businesses need to focus on the ethical implications of using AI.

What would happen if AI wrongly interpreted a product due to a poorly written description, or gave people management advice influenced by biases in the data sets? CEOs using generative AI as an aid must ultimately juggle a developing technology with their leadership responsibilities; getting this right will mean transformative decision-making that reshapes industries. 

The future of leadership in the age of generative AI

As multiple data points and resources will be used in a CEOs decision-making process, the ability to quickly draw insights from an array of information is a fundamental skill and one that should be enhanced through generative AI. CEOs will need to become adept at developing and updating the underlying grounding context, prompting the system to get the most accurate answers, while recognizing mistakes or misinterpretation. Balancing technological insight with human intuition will also be a must-have capability for all leaders.

Looking forward, we can expect a demand for greater transparency in the AI decision-making processes, with CEOs taking responsibility for making AI's reasoning understandable to stakeholders. Developing and implementing ethical guidelines will also fall under their remit, to ensure AI’s benefits are balanced with moral considerations.

Through the competitive use of generative AI, leaders will naturally want to develop and champion a mindset of continuous learning throughout their organization’s culture for all employees to adopt.

Every CEO now has access to AI assisted decision-making and problem-solving, and so heightened disruption from competitors and new entrants is anticipated. The ability to pivot strategies quickly in response to AI-driven market changes will be crucial for maintaining a competitive advantage.

Identifying AI-proficient leaders

With these gains, stakeholders are likely to expect leaders to leverage AI to address social and environmental challenges and more closely align company goals with global sustainability efforts.

We work at the intersection of technology and leadership, alongside consultants in over 30 countries, with access to a global network of CEOs and C-suite leaders. This enables us to identify, appoint and develop leaders who effectively implement AI into business strategies to achieve a competitive advantage. 


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