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Purposefully Leading in AI & Cybersecurity - Bonar Institute for Purposeful Leadership


As AI and Cybersecurity advance, understanding the various contexts of your company is critical even before moving ahead with any plan.  Knowing context, with all its subtleties and nuances, will give you the right perspective to help shape your corporate approach to this quickly emerging technology.

The Bonar Institute’s mission rests on the proposition that “purposeful leadership is an ethical choice that principled leaders make to achieve something greater than themselves and the companies they lead.” One of the levers of purposeful leadership is sound corporate governance. 

Good corporate governance presupposes excellent board & C-suite fulfillment of their fiduciary duties of care, loyalty, and good faith.  In this purposeful leadership context, think about the complex relationship between artificial intelligence (AI) and cybersecurity.

From the board’s and C-Suite’s perspective, AI and cybersecurity are inherently related. 

In AI-first business, where AI and related cybersecurity risks are “mission critical,” even greater oversight might be required. Consider the following factors.

First, all businesses must digitally transform to thrive in a VUCA[1] world. Digital transformation inherently involves managing rapidly evolving cybersecurity risks.

Second, digital transformation likely requires the deployment of AI. For some businesses, AI will address operational efficiencies.

“The mere deployment of any AI technology that creates an opportunity automatically involves cybersecurity risks. 

For other businesses, particularly AI-first businesses, AI represents an opportunity to create category-defining new products and services, or even an opportunity to innovatively disrupt the market. 

Boards and the C-suite should note that AI is an umbrella term for multiple technologies that enable “computer systems or algorithms to imitate intelligent human behavior.”[2]

The mere deployment of any AI technology that creates an opportunity automatically involves cybersecurity risks.  Leaders should note that each individual AI technology involves unique cybersecurity risks. Moreover, all AI technologies, along with associated opportunities and cybersecurity risks, are rapidly evolving.

Consider the example of cybersecurity risks associated with a form of AI that receives daily press: generative artificial intelligence (GenAI).

GenAI is a technology that creates new content, including audio, images, video, and “voices” that can mimic human capabilities.  GenAI’s capabilities, particularly for AI-first businesses, represent huge innovation opportunities but, if not managed properly, potentially existential threats.

Cybersecurity risks associated with GenAI include poisoning the data set used to train neural networks; attacks on the algorithms that process the data; data breaches; deepfake videos, audios, and text; data leaks that expose trade secrets or other confidential information; spreading of misinformation, and more.

Any AI technology, and certainly GenAI, require board and C-suite oversight via fiduciary duty requirements. The level of board oversight can vary depending on the degree to which AI and cybersecurity are “mission critical.”

Purposeful leaders will fulfill their fiduciary duties in the context of AI and cybersecurity with high emotional intelligence; an adaptable and flexible mindset; on a foundation of values, integrity, ethics, and mindfulness; and a vision for the company that aligns with all stakeholder values, including society and the environment.

The Bonar Institute has developed a 4-part program that empowers boards and the C-suite to lead purposefully: Responsible Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Purposeful Boards & the C-Suite. Leadership teams will experience in the program a safe, confidential environment to explore the relationship of AI to their fiduciary duties, the AI-related opportunities and risks for their business – including cybersecurity – and how to optimize their leading purposefully in an AI context by applying the principles of Responsible Artificial Intelligence. Contact the Bonar Institute for more information at info@bonarinstitute.com.


[1] VUCA is an acronym that describes a business environment characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.

[2] See Artificial intelligence Definition & Meaning – Merriam-Webster


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