Three pillars of human leadership for finance AI

The key challenge lies in employees disengaging due to change and concerns about job security

According to Gartner, the rapid advancement of AI tools in finance highlights the importance for CFOs and finance leaders to demonstrate adaptivity, empathy, and authenticity—the three core pillars of human leadership. While AI technology can automate certain tasks in the finance function, it is not about a binary choice between humans and machines. Instead, a human-machine learning loop is emerging, where humans and machines complement each other’s strengths and interact effectively.

The key challenge lies in employees disengaging from the process due to constant change and concerns about job security. This results in a lack of faith in leadership. To address this, finance leaders need to develop human leadership skills to guide their teams and the broader enterprise in the evolving digital landscape.

Human leaders have a significant impact on employee intentions to stay with their current employer, employee wellbeing, and engagement. They can increase employee intentions to stay by 12 percentage points above average leaders and improve employee wellbeing and engagement by 30 and 37 percentage points, respectively.

The three pillars of human leadership that CFOs and finance leaders should focus on are:

  • Adaptivity: Employees now seek a personalized and flexible work experience, including control over when, where, and with whom they work. Finance leaders have performed well in this area, especially due to the labour market’s influence.
  • Empathy: Empathetic leadership involves cultivating a deep understanding of others’ motivations and experiences, while leaving biases behind. CFOs need to be empathetic leaders, particularly as their direct reports experience higher burnout rates. This becomes even more crucial as Gen Z employees, who value emotionally intelligent leadership, make up a larger proportion of the workforce.
  • Authenticity: Authentic leadership goes beyond sharing personal details and requires leaders to be personally vulnerable. It involves being open about one’s feelings to demonstrate to employees that they can take calculated risks without fear of punishment from the system. Over 50 per cent of finance employees feel afraid to take calculated risks, hindering innovation and collaboration.

In addition to these pillars, CFOs should prioritize instilling financial discipline in their organizations. However, it is crucial to strike a balance between financial discipline and being a human leader. Placing people at the centre of the job improves the CFO’s effectiveness in managing people and making tough economic trade-offs while safeguarding overall financial outcomes for the enterprise.



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