One short decade ago, a leader was a brave one, a person elected to be the hero whose face inspired the masses and whose actions and directions paved the way for followers. The rise of the internet and mass collaboration has painted the leader invisible, tasked with empowering individual participants to communicate and pilot their own destinies. Yet what about a decade down the line? Will another fundamental medium of interaction, such as reach of connectivity or scale of social capital, change drastically? Will the generation born with a silver smartphone in its pockets see a different way of connecting users?
The first noteworthy trend is the shift away from an idea of correctness. Today’s users value collaboration and democracy over and idea of a correct path or destination: we seek to personalize our experiences online. Correctness is no longer a proven truth but instead the agreement of the masses. Truth is now what the masses believe, or at least what they believe based on what they see from their own filter bubbles. For example, Twitter messages are regarded as true because they originate from users others respect and can relate to, while scientific research and governmental studies fail to gain users’ trust.
This phenomenon results from a shift towards decentralization. The olden role of Boards of Directors in providing infrastructure for leaders like CEOs to personalize their own agendas has shifted onto those leaders and CEOs themselves, and their managerial tasks have fallen upon eager participants. What then, do the leaders of leaders do now?
If we look at the flow of autonomy and control through the social ranks (from leaders of leaders to leaders to participants), we see an inducement effect. In physics, as air flows at high velocity, it induces air around the stream to also move in the same direction. A similar effect can be seen in leadership, as effort by leaders is now more specified and invisible and most of the work is done by the induced medium: the participants. Leaders of leaders will build an intellectual structure to encourage leaders to collaborate and set the direction of different groups in similar directions.
Just as filter bubbles induce e-consumerism through metadata, and as collaborative leadership induce participation through social capital, the future generation of invisible leaders must build an intellectual infrastructure to fully utilize the winds of inducement.