The topic of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the workplace usually triggers us to imagine computers and robots taking over the world, making humans irrelevant and obsolete. Well, Keep Calm and Read On. This type of AI is far beyond where we are today or in the foreseeable future, but we can prepare our workplaces for what we have today and what we will have tomorrow.

So, let’s talk about what AI we are facing today.

Machine Learning: this is the process by which a machine/computer can learn and is driven by algorithms. We use these in our everyday lives from shopping on Amazon to facilitating a Google search to using asking Siri to set something in our calendars. These all have specific applications that take input to perform and humans to implement. For example, Google Translate; this program hasn’t changed since 2007 and has the power of about 30 million personal computers behind it. You may have noticed over the years that it has gotten more precise and faster, but it is not because this particular program can think and strategize but because of user input and reading—in other words, humans have helped it improve with the algorithm as the engine. The same can be said for robotics in the manufacturing sector that can point out where things aren’t as efficient as they could be. The machine can’t make the change without a human to see how those tweaks will affect the process as a whole and then implement the changes.

Artificial Neural Networks (ANNS): these are computer networks that are connected in a way loosely inspired by the framework of the brain. Here is where not one algorithm but many in the machine learning process work together on a combined set of data that is fed to it. The machine is asked to perform a task like image recognition without prior knowledge or being programed with specific rules but applies mathematical processing parameters. These prescribed prompts have been input in layers and the computer pulls from this data to pull related images.

Now that we understand a little what this AI is all about how does it affect the workplace today?

For the past 20 years, the demand for physical and manual skills is on the decline and will continue as automation and AI grow. According to a recent survey by Deloitte, “more than 4 in 10 companies believe automation will have a major impact on jobs, and 61 percent are now actively redesigning jobs around AI and robotics.”

The study shows that 47 percent of companies consider that developing new skills and career models is essential for their future blueprint and that considering the technological advances, soft skills such as critical thinking, conflict management, communication skills, and empathy will continue to grow in demand.

In fact, Global human capital leader, Brett Walsh of Deloitte Global states “Automation is here to stay and will improve scale, speed and quality, but it’s important to remember that as routine work is automated, new jobs will be created—jobs that are more service-oriented, interpretive, socialand play to our essential human skills. Only companies whose C-suite embraces this transformation and redesign how work gets done to leverage these skills will be able to stay a step ahead of their competition.”

According to Tech Republic, soft skills are now essential to get jobs from the warehouse floor to leadership positions. Up to 67% of HR professionals withhold job offers from qualified candidates because they lack soft skills.

While the uses of AI are in the beginning stages of development and implementation, there is no shortage of beta projects and trials of AI-assisted technologies in the workplace. The ones we are seeing today are mainly found in retail, manufacturing, sales, customer service, and logistics; all functions which are heavily dependent on soft skills for success.


With this challenge at hand, The 5 Chairs are here to help you. Our mission is to support you in developing the human side of your business and keep the ‘Automatron’ at bay! We can help your organization develop those essential ‘human’ leadership skills needed to ensure the continued growth and success of your company as the emerging technologies take hold.

What are some key skills addressed in The 5 Chairs program?

The Person in the Mirror

Know thyself! Take a mirror to yourself and indulge in some deep self-reflection. This is the most important building block for anyone interested in self-awareness and personal growth. If we take a good look at ourselves on any one day, we display a myriad of behaviors, both productive and unproductive.

We move from the The Attack Chair in full Jackal judgment to the Connect Chair where our Giraffe heart is open and empathetic. (For the 5 Chair model see TedX ) Yet just how conscious are we of this? How aware are we of the impact we are having on ourselves, on others and on the situation at hand as we constantly switch behaviors? Does this happen consciously, by instinct or by default? The 5 Chairs are designed to bring you into full consciousness about the behaviors and attitudes you are bringing into the world, how to own them and how to master them.

The Emotions That Control Me

When was the last time you lost the plot? How good are you at keeping your head as your emotions are rising? Do you control your emotions, or do they control you?

We are, after all, ambulant bundles of emotions ready to spark off whenever triggered, whether in the boardroom, on the warehouse floor, in the family or in society at large. How can we learn to see our emotions as messengers and transform them to serve us to our advantage rather than sabotage us? The Meerkat Chair holds the answer.

Facing VUCA

In a dynamic AI environment, agility is the key to success.  A person with this skill set is able to think quickly on their feet and adapt to new situations on the fly with a can-do attitude and the ability to bring their team and leadership on this path with them.  The main component of this skill is to adjust to VUCA situations in a natural and organic way, without stress. A healthy combination of The Wait Chair, The Detect Chair, and The Connect Chair creates an agile individual, an agile team, an agile organization.

I See You… I’m Here to Be Seen

Being able to see one another is complicated in a fast-paced world where time is pushing, stress is increasing, and individualism is evermore king. Where is our empathy? What happened to the heart of all collaboration and civility?

Empathy is the best peace pill we have. It’s the key to solving conflict whether in the boardroom, on the warehouse floor, in the family or in society at large. All the empowerment skills required of managers, such as coaching, mentoring, giving and receiving feedback, delegating and career planning require a well-developed sense of empathy. With this in mind, we need to highlight the caring factor in our lives, and especially in our organizations. This means setting aside our egos and letting others shine through.

Empathy and humility are slowly becoming the most important foundation of successful leadership in the twentieth century.

Managing Our Blah, Blah, Blah!

Communication is king. Research shows that the quality of our communication style has a far-reaching effect on the general performance of any organization. Of course! When dialogue flows, we feel respected, valued and safe. Our desire to engage increases and we contribute to our workplace in more creative ways.

Do you get your points across in a very compelling, interesting, encapsulating ways that grabs the attention of the listener and motivates them into action? Are persuasive and clear so your audience knows your exact expectations? Do you listen empathically, registering, reflecting back, and understanding what is said at different levels?  Do you listen with not only your ears and mind but also your eyes and heart? The Detect and Connect chairs combine to create powerful influential communication.

The 5 Chairs is designed to foster top class teamwork, the driver of all successful organizations. It helps build collaborative problem-solving and interpersonal awareness which is key to a respectful and inclusive workplace. This, in turn, attracts and retains top talent. Soft skills eliminate the toxic work culture from the ground up and empower organizations to lead the way through innovation and productivity. These are core competencies desired in excellent managers and leaders, and they are also equally important for anyone wanting to change their behavior and their life.

Let us help you achieve this in your organization.

Contact us at [email protected] and let’s talk about your organization.

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