Virtual Prowess: The Keys to Effective Virtual Leadership

Virtual Prowess: The Keys to Effective Virtual Leadership

Shelly R. Roy (Fairmont State University/Pierpont Community and Technical College, USA & University of Charleston, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4615-5.ch012


With support from the research literature, this chapter argues that in order to lead effectively in virtual environments, and to achieve virtual prowess, the leaders of Virtual Teams (VTs) need (a) relationship building skills, which include (1) trust, (2) embracing diversity, (3) fostering a team spirit, and the ability to (4) motivate team members. The leaders of VTs must also possess (b) technical skills, which include the ability to use (1) video conferencing software, (2) Instant Messaging (IM) and chatroom software, (3) e-mail, (4) virtual worlds and avatars, and (5) be able to communicate effectively. In addition, leaders of VTs must use their (c) leadership skills and lead with (1) trait emotional intelligence, (2) be able to create an open and supportive environment, (3) lead by example, and (4) resolve conflicts. These four keys, their corresponding skills, as well as their practical applications, are discussed in this chapter.
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Key 1: Relationship Building Skills

The first type of skills the leaders of VTs need 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). Therefore, leaders must alter their leadership style, and ensure that they become relationship-oriented leaders (Bass & Bass, 2008) since relationship-oriented leaders focus primarily upon the ability to create and sustain relationships with their followers, which helps to prevent the isolation that team members feel, when becoming part of a VT (Pyoria, 2009; Hambley, O’Neill, & Kline, 2007). The leader’s ability to have a relationship-oriented leadership style, can also aid in the (A) building of trust among team members, (B) helping team members embrace diversity, (C) fostering a team spirit, and (D) motivating team members, each of which are skills that merit further elaboration in the subsequent paragraphs.

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