Generative AI Writing Tools—Executive Time Saver or Poor Leadership?

With generative AI entering all aspects of life, many executives are taking advantage of generative writing tools such as Bard and ChatGPT. From earnest e-mails on sensitive topics to bullet points for a slide deck, bosses are using AI to craft their own messages. But is it ethical when the writer doesn’t give credit to the real source or doesn’t even know where the chatbot output is coming from? Is this good business?

This issue has arisen because many executives consider eloquence to be a job requirement, so they are loath to admit cribbing from AI. But the practice has landed some leaders into hot water. Consider the associate dean at Vanderbilt who used AI to compose a reaction to a mass shooting at another campus. When the truth was uncovered, the administrator was put on leave.

Still, some believe that using AI to improve efficiency is fair. One executive wrote his own e-mail that he felt was too long and used ChatGPT to remove redundancies. Others, unsure of their own proficiency in writing, turn to AI to hedge their bets. With a bit of proofreading, the formulaic results AI churns out can make risk-averse executives feel safer about their messages.

It is true that executives have long relied on their deputies to assist them with writing delicate messages and perhaps AI can be seen in the same light. This is especially true for leaders of small companies who may have no assistants to whom they can delegate writing tasks. One such executive says she uses AI to help her get started and to provide examples of formats with which she has no experience.

Other beneficiaries of AI writing tools are executives whose first language is not English. A CEO whose company is based overseas says he takes advantage of computer-aided writing tools but that he inserts his own voice to make sure the messages sound authentic.

Despite these legitimate situations, however, no executive will enjoy hearing employees react to a message by saying it was likely generated by ChatGPT. That criticism suggests the leader is not an independent thinker… or just lazy.


  1. What arguments can you make for and against executives’ using AI to write a message or speech without giving attribution to the source?
  2. Can you foresee the impact AI might have on your intended occupation?
  3. When does use of AI writing apps cross the line from being a tool to being a crutch?


Borchers, C. (2023, May 4). The boss was a way with words—or is it AI? The Wall Street Journal.

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