Effective leadership can make a difference in the success of a team, and virtual teams are no exception. However, virtual teams present special challenges, particularly in the expression of the context-rich and personal influence that is such an important part of leadership (Bell & Kozlowski, 2002). Communication through computer- mediated channels requires a different awareness of leadership roles and how they can be expressed. In fact, the communication system itself has roles to play, some of which might be perceived by team members as leadership roles. We begin with a brief summary of the historical context of leadership and existing research on leadership in computer-supported teams. We then discuss opportunities for research on enhancing leadership in virtual teams, particularly from the perspective of integrating human with technology roles.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Distributed Leadership System: Virtual team leadership that is distributed among several members and potentially collaboration technology (see Yoo & Alavi, 2004).
Emergent Leadership: Leadership that occurs in a team that does not have a formally appointed leader, in which one or more members of the team take on various leadership duties with the implicit consent of the other team members.
Collaboration Technology: An integrated and flexible set of tools that support team communication, process, and information sharing.
Full-Range Leadership: A total system in which leaders and followers interact, influence, and develop each other and the context (see Avolio, 1999).
Leadership: The exercise of influence for the purpose of achieving goals.
Virtual Team: A group of individuals who are geographically and/or organizationally and otherwise dispersed and who rely on collaboration technologies to carry out team activities.
Self-Leadership: Leadership of one’s self by development of individual strengths and motivation to perform; a self-influence process (see Manz, 1986).