The purpose of this article is to review the extant literature on electronic-leadership (e-leadership) and illustrate how it has impacted human resource management. First, a brief introduction will explain how e-leadership can enhance communication between leaders and followers, and then a background section provides various definitions of e-leadership and speci- fies its importance for today’s leaders. The third section shows the connection between e-leadership and human resource management. This is followed by a section on future trends that provide a frank appellation of prospects, promises, and processes of e-leadership. And finally, a conclusion offers ideas of how e-leadership can be implemented by leaders across a myriad of both profit- and non-profit businesses. Competitive advantage and performance of the organization is part of the changing role of human resources today (Dessler, 2006). Ergo, electronic-leadership offers human resource professionals an innovative way to communicate, manage, and lead. The information age has brought with it a host of new technologies and an over abundance of choices amongst them. Leaders are hard-pressed to figure out the applications for each of these technological innovations, let alone which ones to adopt and subsequently implement (McAfee, 2006).
What is e-leadership? Avolio, Kahai, and Dodge (2001) first posited e-leadership as “a process that is mediated by technology, and advanced information technologies such as e-mail and knowledge management systems that are enabling new ways of working and leading in organizations.” The purpose of e-leadership, according to Avolio and Surinder (2002), is to take the relationship amongst organizational members defined by an organization’s structure and enhance them. Another definition offered by Annunzio and Lesse (2001) states that electronic-leadership refers to (a) challenging the accepted beliefs and new ways to motivate when you do not see every employee everyday.
Walker (2001) contends that leaders must keep in mind that employees are discretionary investors of their human capital who spend time, talent, effort, and energy, while making a commitment to the organization. When communicating via advanced information technology, leaders must provide followers with a sense of trust that what they say will be respected and held in confidence. Ergo, a successful e-leader must build relationships and trust in order to motivate and optimize performance (Avolio & Kahai, 2002). Ulrich (1997) argues that some employees may feel companies are driven by numbers to the extent that their needs were ignored or slighted in the quest for profits. One way for leaders to offset this perception is to employ intranet Web sites that can provide both the information and process capabilities to manage a full range of human resource programs (Walker, 2001). Ruppel and Harrington (2001) found that intranet implementation is facilitated by a culture that emphasizes an atmosphere of trust and concern for other people, flexibility, and innovation.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Leadership: Leadership is an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes and outcomes that reflect their shared purpose ( Daft, 2008 ).
Communication: The transference and understanding of meaning ( Robbins, 2005 ).
Information Technology: An array of products and services that turn data into useful and accessible information. These products and services enable firms, organizations, and individuals to conduct their business transactions more efficiently and more rapidly. Industries producing information technology are scattered among broad sectors of the economy, including manufacturing, communications, trade, and services ( Eathington & Swenson, 2000 ).
Knowledge Worker: One who works primarily with information or one who develops and uses knowledge in the workplace ( Drucker, 1988 ).
Intranet: A private computer network that employs Internet procedures and network connections to securely share part of an organization’s information and/or operations with its employees.
Strategy: Corporate strategy is the pattern of decisions in a company that determines and reveals its objectives, purposes, or goals; produces the principal of policies and plans for achieving those goals, and defines the range of business the company is to pursue, the kind of economic and human organization it is or intends to be, and the nature of the economic and non-economic contribution it intends to make to its shareholders, employees, customers, and communities ( Andrews, 1980 ).
Human resource management: A strategic approach to managing employment relations which emphasizes that leveraging people’s capabilities is critical to achieving sustainable competitive advantage, this being achieved through a distinctive set of integrated employment policies, programs, and practices ( Bratton & Gold, 2007 ).
Motivation: Psychological processes that cause the arousal, direction, and persistence of voluntary actions that are goal directed. Behavior is seen as purposeful rather than random, therefore people feel aroused to do something and focus on a desired end-result or goal, thus fueling the persistence needed to exhibit sustained effort on a task (Krietner & Knicki, 2007 AU35: The in-text citation "Krietner & Knicki, 2007" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).
Adaptive Structuration Theory: Groups and organizations using information technology for their work dynamically create perceptions about the role and utility of the technology, and how it can be applied to their activities ( Wade & Schneberger, 2007 ).
Total Quality Management: An integrative management philosophy aimed at continuously improving the quality and process to achieve customer satisfaction ( Karuppusami & Gandhinathan, 2006 ).
Transformational Leadership: Involve change agents who are courageous and believe in people. They are value driven, lifelong learners, and have the ability to deal with complexity, ambiguity, and uncertainty ( Tichy & Devanna, 1986 ).