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The future of leadership development: Google Cloud AI-driven learning with Monark

January 11, 2024
Amanda Julian

Ph.D, Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer, Monark

Prabhu Thiagarajan

Google for Startups Accelerator Mentor, Google, Google Cloud

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In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, organizations strive to develop agile leaders capable of navigating complex challenges. Traditional leadership development programs often fall short in providing real-time feedback, personalization, and continuous learning opportunities. However, advancements in generative AI and machine learning (ML) are revolutionizing the field of leadership development by offering innovative solutions to these challenges. In this blog post, we explore how Monark, a participant of the fourth Google for Startups Accelerator: Women Founders program, leverages Google Cloud generative AI and ML to transform the learning experience for next-generation leaders. Read on to learn more!

The role of AI and ML in developing effective leaders

Dominated by coaching, workshops, and online courses, the traditional landscape of leadership development faces limitations in delivering effective outcomes. Coaching is resource-intensive and therefore reserved for the select few, one-off workshops fail to drive lasting change, and online courses suffer from low engagement and completion rates. These methods don’t fully address how people learn and change behavior.

While the leadership development industry has been slow to adopt new technologies, AI and ML, with their capacity for real-time feedback and personalized training, offer a promising solution to the challenges above. As a participant of the Google for Startups Accelerator: Women Founders program, Monark has harnessed Google Cloud's generative AI and ML capabilities to revolutionize leadership development. Their digital solution doesn't just enhance traditional training —it transforms it, equipping leaders for the challenges of tomorrow with more precision and relevance.

Real-time feedback through AI-powered role-play simulations

A key challenge in leadership development is the lack of timely, relevant feedback. Traditional training often employs role-playing scenarios that let participants practice and receive feedback on new interpersonal leadership skills. However, this method in its conventional form has significant limitations. It depends on the availability and engagement capacity of human coaches or peers, and the feedback quality can be compromised by their personal biases and ability to attend to all relevant elements. Post-training, leaders similarly face difficulties in receiving effective and immediate feedback. According to Kelsey Hahn, CEO and Co-Founder of Monark, “When it comes to leaders receiving feedback on the job, traditional assessments such as 360s can be cumbersome to administer and therefore used infrequently, hampering leaders' ability to gain timely and accurate insights, which are crucial for enhancing their behavior and performance.”

Monark tackles this challenge with AI-powered role-play simulations, offering a safe environment for skill practice and immediate feedback. Monark uses Google Cloud’s Vertex AI to create engaging role play simulations and analyze the resulting data, providing learners with real-time feedback grounded in evidence-based criteria from Monark’s research database. By leveraging generative AI foundation models and tools on Vertex AI, Monark’s AI solution acts as an interactive respondent and engages dynamically with users, enhancing the effectiveness of the simulations.


Looking ahead, Monark plans to extend this to real communications between users and their colleagues or direct reports. This will enable real-time feedback on actual behaviors, with the goal of providing timely, dynamic guidance to leaders while avoiding survey fatigue. This innovation in feedback mechanisms marks a potentially significant advancement in practical, effective leadership development.

Personalized learning experiences and nudging with AI and ML

To shape effective and engaging learning experiences, it's crucial to consider each leader's unique preferences, experiences, and goals. Traditional one-size-fits-all training programs often fail to meet these individual needs. Monark leverages BigQuery ML to create personalized learning experiences tailored to each leader's specific requirements. This involves analyzing a wide range of data, including user profile data, the frequency and duration of their interactions, and their responses to various content types. By integrating these insights, Monark's platform is able to make recommendations and anticipate future user needs. This data-driven approach ensures that leaders receive a highly relevant and targeted experience, maximizing learning outcomes.

Further, to provide leaders with immediate, evidence-based assistance tailored to their unique challenges, Monark has introduced a cutting-edge support feature. This tool draws on Monark's research database, providing real-time, tailored guidance for unique challenges. Specifically, Monark integrates Google Cloud DialogFlow CX, Vertex AI PaLM2 for Chat, and Vertex AI Search and Conversation-based agents to provide learners with AI-driven support. DialogFlow CX forms the foundation for building and managing conversational AI applications, while Vertex AI Search and Conversation enhances natural language understanding and generation capabilities. Large language models (LLMs) such as PaLM provide generative feedback on the various aspects of the chatbot performance such as relevance, clarity, and conversational flow. The chatbot uses Datastore agents to ground results in Monark’s data to offer real-time “in-the-moment” searches, evidence-based suggestions, and tips tailored to the learner's unique needs and challenges.


A key challenge in leadership development is the difficulty of applying learned skills in real-world scenarios. Studies show a low transfer rate from training to the workplace. To address this, Monark plans to use machine learning for personalized nudging and reminder strategies, aiding in behavior change and skill application. Tailored to individual needs, the platform will provide customized reminders and prompts, encouraging leaders to use new skills daily. This data-driven method aims to bridge the gap between learning and application, significantly enhancing the practical impact of leadership development.

What’s next

The incorporation of generative AI and machine learning into leadership development presents a paradigm shift that could redefine how leaders are trained and developed. Monark is spearheading this transformation by tackling critical challenges head-on, such as the absence of real-time feedback, the need for personalized learning experiences, and the often limited impact on behavioral change.

Monark is not only preparing leaders for today's complex business environments, but also setting the stage for a future where leadership development is deeply intuitive, highly adaptive, and profoundly effective. “As AI advances, we expect to see even more innovative applications of this technology, such as the use of virtual reality and augmented reality to create immersive learning experiences, and the development of adaptive learning systems that dynamically adjust in real-time, providing advanced challenges or additional support as per the learner's requirements,” says Kelsey.

To explore how Monark can transform your organization's leadership development initiatives, contact us at our website here. Together, let's build a future of super leaders, driven by the power of AI and ML.

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