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Are Management Teams Ready for GenAI? 'Employees Don't Think So,' New Report Indicates


While many companies are embracing the kinds of cost-saving opportunities and efficiencies made possible by generative artificial intelligence (GenAI), fewer are prepared to effectively build the foundation to do so. Implementing GenAI is not a matter of logging on to a solution: GenAI requires skilled and effective leadership, communication and follow-through, and not all companies are prepared to meet the challenge.

Online skills marketplace and learning platform provider Udemy recently announced a new research report, “The GenAI Transformation: Perspectives on Leadership,” which revealed that while employees believe their management teams will be critical to the success of their generative AI (GenAI) initiatives, many are questioning whether their leaders are ready to guide them through this transformational shift.

The study is based on surveys conducted with more than 2,500 employees and business leaders at companies across all sizes and industries globally. It found that while nearly all respondents (88%) agreed that effective leadership would be critical to the success of their organization’s GenAI initiatives, only 55% felt confident in their management team’s ability to seize the opportunities and mitigate the risks brought on by GenAI.

When further pressed about their leadership team’s GenAI readiness, including their approach to risk mitigation and overall communication, employees consistently gave low ratings to their executives. Only 48% of employees believe their executives are ready to successfully lead GenAI initiatives; 44% of employees are confident in their leadership team’s ability to mitigate the risks associated with GenAI; and 42% of employees believe their management team is communicating effectively about their GenAI strategies and initiatives.

One of the main factors contributing to this lack of employee confidence seems to be how many executives are still familiarizing themselves with the technology so they can understand and communicate the positive, practical implications that GenAI may have on their organization.

It’s important to note that employee sentiment, of course, has varied somewhat by sector. Employees across the technology, professional services and financial services sectors rated their leadership team’s readiness more positively, while employees in sectors positioned for the highest levels of transformation and automation, like retail, manufacturing and non-profit, remained somewhat apprehensive about the future.

“Effective leadership is crucial for companies to navigate transformation and thrive in a changing landscape,” said Greg Brown, President and CEO at Udemy. “Our research highlights a critical skills gap in leadership, emphasizing the urgent need for developing leaders with skills such as communication and change management, to help their teams navigate this seismic shift.”

Edited by Alex Passett
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