Digital Mastery: The Skills Needed for Effective Virtual Leadership

Digital Mastery: The Skills Needed for Effective Virtual Leadership

Shelly R. Roy (Gaston Caperton Center, Fairmont State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/jec.2012070104


With support from the research literature, this paper argues that to lead effectively in a virtual environment, the leaders of virtual teams need relationship building, technical, and leadership skills, as well as the ability to defuse the frustrations of virtual team members. Relationship building skills include the ability to establish trust, embrace diversity, skill in fostering a team spirit, and motivating team members. Technical skills include the ability to use video conferencing software, instant messaging, e-mail, virtual worlds, avatars, and communication skills. Leadership skills needed by leaders in virtual environments include emotional intelligence, the ability to create an open and supportive environment, and to lead by example.
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Relationship Building Skills

The first type of skills that are needed by the leaders of VTs are relationship building skills, because the members of the VT must work together in order to accomplish organizational goals (Suduc et al., 2009), and virtual teams cannot succeed without good leader-follower relationships (Robert, Dennis, & Ahuja, 2008; Shriberg, 2009). Strong relationships between the leader and the members of the VT can help to overcome the feelings of isolation experienced by the members of the VT (Pyoria, 2009; Hambley, O’Neill, & Kline, 2007), and good relationships enhance the ability of the VT to share information and knowledge with their fellow team members (“Distant unity,” 2010; Hastings, 2009; Muntean, 2009). Relationship building skills are also important, because it can help the leaders of VTs to defuse conflicts (Brake, 2006; Robinson & Rose, 2007), embrace change (McCallum & O’Connell, 2009; Van Velsor, McCauley, & Ruderman, 2010), and enable better communication among the members of VTs (Morris, 2008).

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