Successful leaders will have to undergo the change from perceiving themselves as managers to perceiving themselves as facilitators. It was best put to me by an executive who said that he hopes that this summer he can serve his interns coffee. This change is required due to labor conditions in the IT market which are making it increasingly difficult to attract and keep high talent. As a result, managers will be forced into habits they should have always had: they will need to make their employees happy. While this should have been a mainstay from when the first group of Neanderthals decided to band together for efficiency, it has not been.
The primary changing force will likely be Intranets, which facilitate employee discussions and empower the worker to directly contribute value in the realm once exclusive to management. The oligarchy of business structure will become more of a democracy as the workers (and now also shareholder!) pull together to make a company succeed and adapt. The purpose of staffing will be facilitating quietly and effectively: the external visibility of a leader may decrease while her importance increases. Such a shift to a cooperative medium may bring others who were not previously interested in “command structures” to the business world.
At the risk of being accused of sexism, I feel it is this change that has the greatest potential for the rise of the female manager. While men excel at dominating and leading a task, women can be better than men at facilitating and working cooperatively. As the industry moves to a model that better identifies with talents more intrinsically found in women, I predict a large increase in female involvement in the corporate world.
An effective leader will be one that is subtly affective. (Yes, I spelled that correctly.) The leader of the future must learn to make his employees shine. A leader must have, above all, the ability to serve the people who make her job possible. In this regard, the most effective leaders must be kind, trustworthy, and supportive. They will encourage participation even from the most quiet of their staff and will quietly listen when even the intern has a comment to make.
An effective leader will value his subordinates above all.