Let me share a personal story: Recently I had my dad’s 1967 Chevy pickup restored, and, I’m not going to lie, it looks awesome. And so I like to take it out for a spin every once in a while. As I was doing so one day, a teenager pulled up next to me at an intersection, rolled down his window and said to me, “Man, that truck is 'sick.'"

Remember when sick used to mean something bad?

That’s how things are today. What’s down is up, and what’s up is down.

It’s that way at work, too.

What I mean is, it’s tough being a leader at work today. A good leader knows you can’t sit at the top and rule -- that way doesn’t work anymore. Good leaders know you have to get down and walk with your people. You have to follow from the front.

These different dynamics that leaders are now measured against are really confusing, especially for middle managers. Most management classes don’t teach this new way of leading, but to succeed in today’s world you have to master it.

So what’s the secret?

Managers need to figure out a way to get the most out of the collective intelligence and experience of their workforce, and then use that knowledge to drive business results. Social business technologies are making it easier than ever to listen to people, and these technologies are transforming the way they work.

Social technologies are affecting the way people work, enabling managers to partner with their people and work together in new and better ways. These technologies give people the unique opportunity to collaborate and share what they know. For managers, the key is finding a way to tap into this collective knowledge. When done right you can figure out what their people are talking about and then walk with them on the path of success.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about: Berlitz Corp. provided a way for its global workforce to talk with each other in real time using social tools. Rather than solely relying on executives to come up with new ideas, company leaders were able to tap into the suggestions of their employees, which created a more nimble organization that was able to speed up the development of new customer offerings.

Today, companies that succeed have leaders who listen to the market and give the market what it wants and needs. It’s the same with managing people. Successful managers listen to the market, in which case this market is their people. When managers listen to their employees, they give employees the chance to tell them what direction to go.

That’s how leaders and managers fit in to create a smarter workforce. Creating a smarter workforce, now that’s "sick."