The Role of Leadership in Virtual Teams
Kristi M. Lewis Tyran (Western Washington University, USA) and Craig K. Tyran (Western Washington University, USA)
Copyright © 2008.
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As globalization and the prevalence of electronic communication technology has become more widespread, organizations are adapting and changing at a rapid pace. Many organizations are using “virtual teams” of people working across space and time as an organizational structure to enhance organizational flexibility and creativity in this changing environment (Duarte & Snyder, 1999; Townsend, DeMarie, & Hendrickson, 1998). As virtual teams become a more popular organizational tool, many researchers have begun to explore ways in which the performance of such teams may be enhanced (Cohen & Gibson, 2003). One aspect of teamwork that has traditionally had an important impact on team performance is team leadership. Leaders often facilitate effective task performance within a team. By assigning tasks to individuals with the skills, knowledge and abilities to perform best, as well as structuring the team to best accomplish its tasks, a leader can greatly increase the effectiveness and efficiency of a team (Hooijberg, Hunt, & Dodge, 1997; McGrath, 1984; O’Connell, Doverspike, & Cober, 2002). In addition to task-focused behaviors, leaders also motivate, coach and mentor team members toward higher levels of performance (Bass, 1985; Conger & Kanungo, 1998).
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Key Terms in this Chapter
Team Social Interaction: The manner in which team members work together, including communication style, conflict management approaches, and decision-making techniques.
Team’s Internal System: Describes the nature of team member interaction and the member’s expertise, diversity, and shared mental models.
Team Leader: A role within a team that involves administering the team, coaching team members, and advising when needed within the team. Often a team leader coordinates tasks and facilitates performance, as well as mediating when conflicts arise.
Leadership: A process used to influence attitudes, behavior, and/or performance with individuals, groups, or organizations.
Virtual Team: A functioning team of people who are geographically dispersed, interdependent and share responsibility for team outcomes, and reliant on technology-mediated communications instead of face-to-face communications to complete tasks.
E-Leadership: The process of influencing others through computer-mediated communication.
Trust: A psychological state in which one person has confidence that another party will act in an expected manner.
Adaptive Structuration Theory (AST): A theory used to explain the process in which information technologies are integrated into the workplace. The theory considers change with respect to the structures provided by the technologies, as well as the structures that arise when people use the technologies.