A couple of years ago the Collab@Work blog wrote a very interesting article on how leadership in MMORPG’s, such as World of Warcraft is temporary. They provided reasons why in these MMORPG’s it makes sense to have temporary leaders:
In those games, leadership is a temporary position. At one point in time, you’re leading, the week after you’re following another leader. Reasons vary: too much pressure, less availability, someone else better suited for the job at hand, …
Unfortunately they highlighted that in traditional business leadership is virtually never temporary. Over the last couple of years the growth in this idea around temporary leadership in the way many small business collaboratively work together, especially when it comes to businesses based around the web. I would say that this is in part due to the fact that people in small business are very engaged in what they do, otherwise they would go out of business. Engagement is a key attribute required for temporary leadership to work.
Temporary leadership has many benefits again to quote Collab@Work:
- having been a leader makes you a better follower. You understand better what the leader is trying to achieve
- being a follower makes you a better leader. Your experience as a follower is still recent
- from an organizational perspective, you can “test” more leaders including the ones that wouldn’t have been considered. That can dramatically increase your leadership bench, and see who are the best leaders rather than the best leader potentials.
The post was based on a HBR article from May 2008 which pointed out that in today’s business:
A lot of work will be done by global teams—partly composed of people from outside the institution, over whom a leader has no formal authority—that are assembled for a single project and then disbanded. Collaboration within these geographically diverse groups will, by necessity, occur mainly through digital rather than face-to-face interaction.
Sounds like an MMORPG to me. For example it makes sense that people who can successfully execute a 6 hour raid with 50 guild members based in 10 countries is developing the right skills needed for business in the future. They are also learning how to effectively leverage all of the social technologies we have available.
So as both articles say do not necessarily dismiss the hours spent by your children or friends on these games, they may in fact be learning the critical skills to be the next world leaders.