Leadership: A Turing Test for Bosses

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Alan Turing made many contributions to the Allied effort in World War II and to the many fields that have coalesced into computer science. He’s best known among laypeople like me for his “Turing Test,” a test of whether a computer can exhibit intelligent behavior like a human being.

My question for you is: “Could you pass such a test?” If I watched you work for a few hours, would it be obvious that you were a human being and not some kind of AI-powered, cyborg-boss?

In my career I’ve seen too many bosses who couldn’t. They imagined their job as passing on instructions and enforcing regulations. One of their favorite phrases is “I have no choice …”

Most bosses aren’t that way. They may not get everything right, but it’s clear that they’re human beings struggling to do the right thing. That’s probably where you fit, but let’s check. Is it obvious that you’re a real human being or do you act like a walking, talking bunch of algorithms?

Do you take time to have frequent conversations with your team members where you do something more than just pass on directives?

Do you strive to be fair to everyone while you make adjustments for individual strengths, weaknesses, and preferences?

Do you argue for your team or team member when something comes down from above that’s wrong or unfair?

Do you help your team members grow, develop, and succeed?

Boss’s Bottom Line

Human bosses who act intelligently are the best for human beings. That means more than passing on instructions and enforcing rules and standards. Show your humanity by acknowledging the emotion in the workplace and by using both your brain and your heart.

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