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Educational leadership in the age of AI

Who will lead in the age of artificial intelligence (AI)? More importantly, how will they choose to lead?

The age of AI is transforming the education sector. As a result, leaders of educational institutions must learn to adapt and maximize the use of technology.

Generations of learners are greatly affected by innovation and disruption. The constant use of technology is changing the way students learn. Technology advancement through AI is changing how content is being delivered. New education models are being created, and traditional schools need to constantly adapt to stay relevant.

Leading in the age of AI is focused on empowering others to lead and create self-organized
learning teams. This creation process involves digital transformational leadership — a shift in leadership thinking not only for empowered learning, but also for self-organized learning environments (SOLEs) in educational institutions. Much to be considered are the unique changes and unpredictable challenges, which should be faced with a balance of caution and openness.

Teachers today must design, develop and implement new learning methods to capture the attention of learners. Merely creating pockets of technological innovation in classrooms is not enough. Educational leaders must also have an effective digital transformation strategy to create a culture of innovation and collaboration that will lead to better learning for all and prepare learners to be leaders in the age of AI.

Disruption can alter the way an industry operates. If we look at the big picture in such a way that innovation goes hand in hand with disruption, we will see that both innovation and disruption are part of an endless cycle of learning amid the age of AI. We need to embrace change and disruption to pave the way in an ambiguous and complex world.

For educational leaders in the age of AI, a radical shift in thinking and taking action is the greatest weapon for unexpected, rapid change. Educational leaders must adapt an action-oriented mindset for their educational institution to remain relevant. They must learn to ask questions, be more data driven, and cultivate high emotional intelligence. Likewise, they must transform failure into learning opportunities.

Learning to fail intelligently means knowing your limitations, facing your shortcomings, and recognizing your own vulnerability. It means identifying the difference between seeing failure as an obstacle deterring success and treating failure as a stepping stone to success.
Educational leaders must also future-proof educational institutions under their wing. To do this, educational leaders need to develop and deliver an agenda for the future of teaching and learning by adequately preparing students, preparing schools to thrive, and assessing the relevance of the current schooling model.

As part of future-proofing, promoting innovation in schools in the age of AI involves empowering teams to foster participation and accountability. Shifting from the know-it-all and master of the universe approach to the ragtag, bottom-up approach is the new way forward. Encouraging others to contribute knowledge and ideas, and to learn from them is a fitting task for an educational leader in this ever-changing age. Building an environment where people care about their work and are accountable for their responsibilities is a strong foundation for the growth and development that educational leaders envision for their people.

Another room for improvement is creating a new vision for teaching and learning. While most schools teach their students the same way they did in the past, a number of brave and bold schools are moving toward a newer phase. Today’s learners have unparalleled access to information, effortless connectivity, new ways to express creativity, and a myriad of academic choices and careers yet to be envisioned. Because of these opportunities, changing the approach from the top to the bottom of an educational institution is ideal.

Teachers must be trained for new knowledge and skills. After all, working on the body on its own is an empty gesture if the mind thinks the same way. The use of state-of-the-art teaching methods and approaches can significantly enhance student learning, and is a crucial skill for teachers. However, experimenting with teaching strategies is no mean feat.

In addition, teachers must consider the advancement they can provide to students in areas of engagement, motivation and academic performance with the application of new methods and strategies. Personal reservations should be set aside to cater to what is best for the majority of learners. Resisting change can only lead to below-average learning and the eventual obsolescence of institutions as a whole.

Educational leaders who fully embrace change can have the advantage and competency that students, teachers, and institutions are looking for. Instead of obsolescence, they will prosper as frontrunners in the ever-changing age of AI.

Jess Obana is a senior managing consultant in the advisory services division of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory, and outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 23 partners and more than 900 staff members. We’d like to hear from you! Tweet us: @PAGrantThornton, like us on Facebook: P&A Grant Thornton, and email your comments to or For more information, visit our website at


As published in The Manila Times, dated 04 March 2020