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Special Reports

There’s No AI in Team?

Dave Brailsford

The headline should conjure memories of the well-known expression, “There’s no I in team.” While we all understand, literally speaking, that there is no letter I in the word team, it refers to the notion that it’s about the team, not the individual. In an interview regarding his role as CEO of the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, Sir Dave Brailsford dispelled this idea by stating that there are plenty of I(s) on your team. Let me explain.

In the case of the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, the goal and the overall purpose were clear. 

Goal: Help world record holder Eliud Kipchoge run a marathon (26.2 miles/42.2k) in under two hours (a feat long thought impossible).

Purpose: Inspire the human family. (Achieving the goal was also designed to help people everywhere challenge their self-limiting beliefs and achieve new heights, no matter their vocation).

Because teams are comprised of individuals with their own values, priorities, and aspirations, Brailsford believed it was his responsibility to understand what they were for every team member. Rather than expect team members to simply comply with the team goal and purpose, he connected them with what truly mattered to each team member and, as a result, drove team engagement to new heights. He didn’t aspire to create a shared purpose (one which often only achieves compliance); he sought to construct a connected one. Brailsford preserved the I in team and leveraged it to build a stronger overall unit.

AI as a Team Resource

Earlier this week, I had a virtual meeting with two of my favorite people, Chris Zhuang from Shanghai and Miguel (Mike) Dias from Porto. During our conversation, we talked about teams and the addition of Artificial Intelligence (AI). We quickly concluded that the quality of the team will continue to win the day for the foreseeable future. We compared it to giving any group of people a soccer ball or basketball. Both are easily accessible, yet the talent, hard work, ingenuity, and teamwork that come with being great at either sport are uniquely human endeavors. 

Having the ball or access to AI is not enough. It’s what a team does with it that will matter most. Leveraging this new tool to the fullest will require employing Peernovation’s Five Factors and their companion questions:

  1. Do I have the right people on the team? Are they willing to embrace Artificial Intelligence for the powerful resource that it is?
  2. Do they enjoy high levels of psychological safety? Will they feel free to learn and grow together and be willing to learn from mistakes, surface new ways of thinking, question current processes, and even challenge leaders for the sake of the organization’s future? 
  3. Are they committed to being truly productive? Are they willing to shed their self-limiting beliefs regarding the organization’s capacity and future productivity?
  4. Will their accountability to one another inspire them to bring their A-game daily? Will they have the courage to leverage their psychological safety and dare to achieve new heights?
  5. Will the CEO and overall leadership team create an environment that will let their people soar?

Maximizing the potential of AI and what it could mean for your organization will require leaning into one of the most potent models practiced by today’s highest-performing CEO Peer Advisory Groups and Forums – The Learning-Achieving Cycle.

The Learning-Achieving Cycle

We learn better when we learn together. Upon sharing our learning, we encourage one another to apply what we learn (and using an iterative approach, fully embracing trial and error), achieve small wins, and celebrate each one along the way. The act of celebrating drives this reinforcing loop. The Learning-Achieving Cycle keeps the team focused on what it takes to be great. The results serve as everyone’s reward.


The next time someone asks you if there is an I in team, I hope you respond by saying, “Absolutely.” Then you can tell them about Sir Dave Brailsford and the remarkable story about how a team of I(s), in service of Eliud Kipchoge, broke a barrier most people thought impossible. If you’re asked if there is an AI in team, consider replying, “There better be, or the team will struggle to survive.” The time is now to take a hard look at AI and equip the team leading your organization into the future.

Written by Leo Bottary.

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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Special Reports - There’s No AI in Team?
Leo Bottary
Leo Bottary is the founder and managing partner of Peernovation. He is a sought-after thought leader on Peer Advantage and Peernovation, emerging disciplines dedicated to strategically engaging peers to achieve personal and organizational excellence. A popular author of three books, including Peernovation: What Peer Advisory Groups Can Teach Us About Building High-performing Teams (Archway; October 16, 2020), he is also an author, keynote speaker, workshop facilitator, and thought leader on the topic of peer advantage.

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) (ABD) in Organizational Leadership Studies at Northeastern University.
M.A. in Strategic Communication & Leadership at Seton Hall University.
B.A. in Political Science and German at Jacksonville University.

Books by Leo Bottary:
Peernovation: What Peer Advisory Groups Can Teach Us About Building High-performing Teams (Archway; October 16, 2020).
What Anyone Can Do: How Surrounding Yourself With the Right People Will Drive Change, Opportunity and Personal Growth (Routledge; September 3, 2018).
The Power of Peers: How the Company You Keep Drives Leadership, Growth & Success (Bibliomotion; March 22, 2016).

Leo Bottary is a member of the External Advisory Board (EAB) for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.