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Evolving Management: 5 Essential Shifts for the Modern Online Community Manager


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The role of a community manager is undergoing significant transformation. Adapted from the Harvard Business Review article by Joseph Pistrui and Dimo Dimov, "The Role of a Manager Has to Change in 5 Key Ways," the traditional functions of community management are no longer sufficient in today's dynamic environment. For online community managers, adapting to these changes is crucial for fostering vibrant and engaging digital spaces.

From Directive to Instructive: Embracing AI and Learning

With the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) transforming tasks and roles, online community managers need to shift their focus from directing to educating and guiding. As AI handles more administrative and repetitive tasks, the manager's role becomes more about understanding AI's impact and guiding their community through these changes. This involves continuous learning and experimentation to develop new practices that enhance community engagement and interaction.

From Restrictive to Expansive: Encouraging Autonomy and Creativity

Micromanagement hinders the growth of vibrant online communities. Modern managers should encourage autonomy and foster an environment where community members feel empowered to share innovative ideas and take initiative. This approach not only bolsters individual development but also leads to a more dynamic and engaging community.

From Exclusive to Inclusive: Leveraging Diverse Perspectives

The best ideas often emerge from a melting pot of diverse thoughts and experiences. Today's online community managers must move away from a mindset of solitary decision-making to embrace inclusivity. This involves creating leadership circles within the community, encouraging diverse viewpoints, and integrating these insights to address challenges creatively and effectively.

From Repetitive to Innovative: Nurturing a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Innovation is key to keeping online communities relevant and engaging. Managers need to move beyond maintaining the status quo and focus on encouraging continuous improvement and innovation. This means creating an environment where community members are motivated to think beyond existing boundaries and are rewarded for bringing fresh, innovative ideas to the table.

From Problem Solver to Challenger: Inspiring Growth and Development

Rather than solely focusing on problem-solving, modern managers should adopt a challenger mindset. This involves identifying new growth opportunities, reimagining best practices, and encouraging community members to explore new ways of achieving goals. Reflection and strategic thinking become crucial in understanding which challenges to pursue and how to approach them innovatively.

Conclusion: Building a Future-Ready Online Community

For online community managers, adapting to these shifts is not just about embracing new technologies but also about fundamentally changing their approach to leadership. By becoming more instructive, expansive, inclusive, innovative, challenging, and entrepreneurial, managers can create online communities that are not only engaging and vibrant but also resilient and adaptable to future changes. These shifts ensure that communities do more than just keep pace with technological advancements – they become spaces of continuous learning, growth, and innovation.

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