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I had some great conversations at the IBM Connect conference and one of them was with Tim Geisert, the CMO of Kinexa (which IBM recently acquired).  We talked a lot about the future of work and collaboration and the role of management in all of this.  Tim mentioned the idea of “following from the front” as a future management model which I thought was really interesting and something I completely agree with.

The notion of “following from the front” refers to managers and business leaders whose role shifts away from purely managing and delegating people to empowering them to shine and solve problems.  The role of the future manager is to get things out of the way for employees who want to solve problems and make things happen; in other words, helping them succeed and paving the way.  You would think that this should be the way things are today but sadly they are not.  Most organizations still approach managing in a command and control hierarchical mentality instead of “following from the front.”

The technologies and platforms which support collaboration and the future of work make this notion of “following from the front” not only a reality but a necessity.  The good managers are no longer the ones who can make the best decisions, bring in the most money, or best deal with office politics.  These managers are slowly going to starting finding themselves on the way out.

The future of management and the characteristics of the future manager can be summed up in just three words: “helping employees succeed.”