It's a loooong article, but to tease you into reading it I provide but three perspectives culled from its over 2500 words. Imagine an extended analogy between online gaming communities and complex corporations, embedded in a complex analysis of leadership in both environments.
Consider these elements of "games such as Eve Online, EverQuest, and World of Warcraft":
1) Leadership roles are often temporary. Perhaps the most striking aspect of leadership in online games is the way in which leaders naturally switch roles, directing others one minute and taking orders the next. Put another way, leadership in games is a task, not an identity — a state a player enters and exits rather than a personal trait that emerges and thereafter defines the individual.
2) Dashboards, or cockpits, display both status and communication functions on the same densely populated user interface and often on a single computer screen, eliminating the need to open and close different software applications. Constantly visible during play, the cockpits allow a leader to stay within the narrative of the game while acquiring necessary information about players and communicating instructions to the group. Unlike a corporate dashboard that is located on a handful of computers at headquarters, with access limited to the senior executive team, these personal, view-as-you-go game cockpits give people in the field access to information as soon as it is available. That, in turn, allows game players to act on it without waiting for instructions from a guild leader. What’s more, the information allows players to assume impromptu leadership roles as needed. In many of our video clips, we see three or four people barking orders to team members during a raid, briefly taking the lead in the improvisational style of a jazz ensemble.
3)Leadership demands speed. A game hour is unlike 60 minutes at your desk or in a meeting. Actions that might take weeks or months to unfold in real life are often compressed into hours or even minutes online. The lightning pace of games is unlikely to become widespread anytime soon in the business world, except perhaps in selected contexts such as high-velocity financial trading. However, business decision making is accelerating, driven in part by the almost instant, if not always complete, availability of certain kinds of data. To keep up with rivals, real-world leaders will increasingly need to be willing and able to act on such information without pausing for long periods to weigh options.
Reeves, Malone, O'Driscoll, "Leadership's online labs." New Zealand CIO. 05 May 2008. Fairfax Business Media. 13 Feb 2009
There's more. I highly encourage you read the entire article, available without charge online at New Zealand CIO. Thanks also to Genie Tanner for tweeting the link. I think she was just testing out her new Twhirl client, but wow, what a gem she shared. I tweeted back that I was using the free version of ReadPlease to have it read aloud to me whilst I was setting up for 4th graders in Quest Atlantis, and now she has that tool, an information gift from me in response to an information gift from her. That's how it works, pilgrims...