People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 48

In First Person: David Dotlich
People + Strategy editor-at-large Allan Church spoke with David Dotlich, the
senior client partner with Korn Ferry Hay Group about the best practices for
identifying C-suite potential and the increased role of artificial intelligence.

The Future of C-Suite Potential in the Age of Robotics
P+S: How do you approach the process of
helping companies identify and/or select
for the C-suite? What is your approach?
David: We've gone through three different phases in how we think about the
idea of senior leadership potential over
the years. In the first phase, there was
real disagreement about the nature and
definition of potential. In phase two,
there was a significant amount of scientific work done in the field to try to define
potential.
But that's changing again and we're
moving into phase three. We've reentered the potential debate again given
the significant disruption that organizations are facing. It's not about whether
people have potential or not, it's more
along the lines of [the] question of potential for what? But the difference this
time around is that the "what" needed in
the future is unclear. People feel, particularly at the top of the organization, that
their business is going to be so different
that no matter what business they're in,
they're going to be challenged to identify
the right capabilities needed when the
time comes to place a new CEO in the
role. So, in just two to three years, it will
have gotten harder to define potential
for them again. The "what" in the "potential for what?" keeps evolving.
The discussion around potential is tied
more to the business cycle and degree of
disruptions companies are experiencing
from their environments. Essentially, they
can agree on potential for today, but they
can't agree on potential for tomorrow.
That's the big issue I see.
P+S: How do you go about determining
what the future will be or what will be
48

PEOPLE + STRATEGY

needed? How do you approach the work
if it's always changing?
David: We need to come at the issue of
potential from a different angle. With artificial intelligence (AI), digitization, and
machine learning in particular. The way
senior leaders add value and what they do
to create value for the business takes on
a different form. If you just take the basic
question of the role that robotics will play
in organizations, for example, what kind
of competencies are going to become
more important in a future where they
are everywhere running major parts of
the business?
Attributes such as creativity, innovation, and the ability to look at things
differently are going to be key. People
skills, such as interpersonal relations and
emotional intelligence, are also going to
be paramount in the future. Anything a
robot can't do is going to become more
valued in general, and even more so in
senior leadership roles. In a robotics driven AI world, these uniquely human skills
will become the key differentiators of
successful leadership. These humanistic
and creative capabilities will become even
more important particularly at the top of
the organization than they are even today.
We're looking at such a different world in
the future. These will become the future
skills needed for everyone in organizations and from a leadership potential and
succession standpoint.
P+S: Will firms based in technology or
deep in product innovation have an edge
over those in say the financial services or
focused primarily on ROI?
David: Perhaps, but even some financial

institutions are seeing these trends and
starting to think through how they will
address them. To me the fundamental
question sits with machine learning and
AI. How will these trends as they evolve
and expand redefine what leadership
and therefore potential means at a basic
level for all us as a society? Because so
much of the kind of typical skills and
what people consider today to be a
"complete leader" will now be done by
machines and algorithms.
It's going to happen more and more,
and you know it's already started. Lower
level jobs are disappearing and as technology advances it will continue moving
up the organization hierarchy in terms
of the types of skills and eventually roles
it makes obsolete. In the future, leaders
will no longer need to be engaging and
motivating lots and lots of employees in
large complex organizations to deliver
tasks because so much of that will be
done artificially through robotics and AI.
P+S: Let's say a Fortune 50 company
calls you tomorrow and says come help
us identify and develop a new CEO 10
years out from now. How would you think
about leveraging these concepts?
David: I think it's all about trying to
make a bet on how fast these trends are
happening. In the near term, we're already seeing jobs beginning to change
or disappear with the impact of AI. I'm
talking about in two to three years, maybe three to five. This is happening right
now in terms of automation. The bigger
challenges and open questions are in the
five- to 10-year period. That is where we
are going to see the major disruption as
more and more jobs get redefined and



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1

From The Executive Editor
From The Guest Editors
Perspectives
So You Want to Be a High-Potential?
How to Identify and Grow High Potentials: A CEO’s Perspective with Proven Results
Getting the Right People in the Hi-Po Pool
Wherefore Art Thou All Our Women High-Potentials?
Are Your HiPos Overrated?
Executive Roundtable
In First Person
Linking Theory + Practice
Insight into Action
Leadership Insights
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Cover1
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Cover2
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 1
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 2
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 3
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - From The Executive Editor
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - From The Guest Editors
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 6
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 7
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Perspectives
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 9
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 10
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 11
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 12
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 13
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 14
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 15
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 16
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - So You Want to Be a High-Potential?
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 18
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 19
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 20
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 21
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - How to Identify and Grow High Potentials: A CEO’s Perspective with Proven Results
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 23
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 24
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 25
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 26
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 27
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Getting the Right People in the Hi-Po Pool
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 29
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 30
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 31
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Wherefore Art Thou All Our Women High-Potentials?
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 33
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 34
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 35
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 36
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 37
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Are Your HiPos Overrated?
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 39
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 40
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 41
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Executive Roundtable
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 43
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 44
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 45
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 46
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 47
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - In First Person
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 49
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Linking Theory + Practice
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 51
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 52
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 53
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Insight into Action
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 55
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Leadership Insights
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 57
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 58
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Cover3
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Cover4
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