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The Virtual Team Leadership Management Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

This review of research examines the process of leadership, Types of Leadership, Functions of leadership, Conflict models, Leadership performance, effectiveness of leader, Leadership outcomes, Self-management in Virtual teams, working skills, Building trust and cooperation through technology adoptions in Virtual teams. Based on the review of the literature and research many hypotheses were proposed regarding the functions of leaders in virtual teams to manage, reduce the conflict and to motivate team members for sustained outcome.

Introduction

In the discussion of large companies and organizations out sourcing and branching out their teams typical to reach the goals, productivity and consumer satisfaction. To manage organizations turn over throughout all the braches is impossible which have different people working on same task from different places with different timelines and schedules. So, leading these teams need special requirements and skills apart from general organizational behavior. This study concentrates from both leader and team perspective to resolve conflicts and increase team’s performance. “The use of virtual teams is common now-a-days and more than half of the professional employees are believed to work or already have worked on virtual teams during their career” (Martins, 2004; as cited in Wakefield, Leidner, & Garrison, 2008). These virtual teams were dispersed geographically and culturally in order help the organization with round the clock work and to allow efficient employees from all over the world. These virtual teams may be used as R&D, customer service, etc. Since the virtual teams have great diversity than collocated teams these virtual teams tend to have more conflict within the team. This literature review will briefly describes the challenges faced by virtual teams, types of conflicts involved in the teams, The types of leadership procedures followed by the team leaders in order to reduce team conflict and gain trust, confidence and manage motivation in the team members. This review also deals with effects and causes of the performance and outcomes of the leadership practices.

Literature

General Idea and Surface Findings

The idea of Virtual team Leadership centers it attention over managing the teams, Reducing conflicts, Building trust, cooperation with in the team so that it can perform better and achieve more outcome. In acquired literature researchers concluded to different types of hypotheses which yields the required outcome from the team. The teams mutual awareness can be disrupted by removing the common factors like location , culture between the team members (Cramton, 2001). ” The electronic interactions among teams members that may be misunderstood and it is not surprise that team conflict is pressing problem in virtual teams” (Armstrong & Cole, 2002 & Hinds & Mortensen, 2005). The studies found many type of leadership skills and approach towards team conflict to increase the trust and motivation between team members. Virtual projects often include collaboration of multiple organizations or employee-client relations through which leaders lost ability to influence the workers and hence use of information and communication tools to regain their lost influence for achieving better performance from the team. In some situations for virtual teams will see emergent leadership skill where the active team members will lead the teams according to the situation of the project or proposed work. There is different leadership behaviors proposed by various studies the main leadership skills exhibited by these team leaders will be transformational, transactional and participative behaviors. Some of the studies proposed the success of the team is not only due to a team’s efforts but it is collective individual influence the performance of team. The challenges of the virtual team settings can be overcome enhancing the leader ability which can be achieved by the change in management principles (Levasseur, R. E, 2012).

Leadership in Virtual Teams

Virtual team is a group of individuals who are geographically dispersed, cross functional and they work on highly interdependent and collaborative tasks. For leading these virtual teams will need special leadership skills and practices, the authors like Rosen, Furst, & Blackburn did intense research and found nearly six types of leadership practiced performed by virtual team leaders, those can elaborated mainly as establishing and maintaining trust through use of communication technology, ensuring distributed diversity, managing working life cycle, monitoring teams progress, enhanced visibility, enabling virtual team members to benefit from collaborated team work (Rosen, Furst, & Blackburn, 2006 as cited in Malhotra, Majchrzak, & Rosen, 2007).

For me leading virtual teams requires all the leadership and project management skills. The communication through electronically and in person is not same, because the authors stated that the “Synchronizing efforts of geographically, culturally and technically diverse team does not happen magically” and they stated that it’s hard to motivate and influence people electronically (Rosen, Furst, & Blackburn, 2006; as cited in Malhotra, Majchrzak, & Rosen, 2007)”.

Challenges faced by Virtual Teams

The virtual teams have different and greater challenges than the traditional workplace environment, The working lines will cross over geographic locations, boundries, cultures, networks and alliances. Since the virtual teams are very diverse, they have very unique set of problem rather than collocated teams. “The virtual teams face the issues of trust, communication, goal alignment, shared purpose, skills, resource availability and role clarity” (O’Neill, Lewis, & Hambley, 2008).

Virtual team has to overcome the following external and internal challenges. External factors are outside the control of a virtual team and the team has to find a way to manage them for example, like distance, time and technology. Internal factors are those will be within the control of a virtual team, the team can directly influenced or interact with these factors like culture, trust, communication, relationship and leadership (Friedrich, Bleimann, Stengel, & Walsh, 2011).

The Leadership is the key for any virtual organization setting, the right competencies, attributes, trust and rapport, and management of virtual workers and teams. Elective leadership is the key factor that influences success in a virtual organization. The Maintenance of cultural identity, brand of employment and employee-manager satisfaction requires consistent and regular communication (O’Neill, Lewis, & Hambley, 2008). Leadership skills are necessary for virtual work. According to O’Neill, Lewis, & Hambley,(2008) generally leadership included in virtual teams a strongly focuses on relationships, emotional intelligence, a track record and innovation, a focus on process and outcome, and the ability to give positive and constructive feedback. “In the virtual organizations, the role of leaders tends to shift from one of controller to one of coordinator or coach and it is necessary for organizations to promote trust and working relationships” (O’Neill, Lewis, & Hambley, 2008).

Diversified Leadership Roles in Virtual Teams

According to Chen, Yang, & Tsou (2008) the diversified leadership roles influences both leadership effectiveness and team trust. There is some factors influence the teams effectiveness they are team trust, propensity, leadership effectiveness. The researchers also found that the trust mediates the relationship between both leader and team effectiveness.

Synchronous ICT ( Information and Communication Technology) tools can be different in terms of social presence and information richness and text, audio- and video-conferencing systems are classified under these tools. From e-mails, discussion forms, and bulletin boards, to workflow, scheduling and other project management applications the ICT tools vary in wide ranges. The success of the virtual teams is clear purpose, goals always should be measurable, appropriate number of individual in the team, establishment of guidelines, communication, decision making and processes.

The behavioral complexity theory clearly stressed on importance of leader in improving their team effectiveness by their diversified leadership roles (Kayworth & Leidner, 2002; as cited in Chen, Yang, & Tsou2008). The roles of leadership are categorized in to three types they are, interpersonal contact, information processing and decision making. The type of challenges that such as ICT-enabled communications, cross-cultural communications, global logistical design, technological complexity are more prevalent in the virtual teams. “Diversified leadership roles, leadership effectiveness, and propensity to trust all positively influence team trust, in turn will contributes to two types of indicators of team effectiveness, performance and satisfaction” (Chen, Yang, & Tsou, 2008).

Building Trust and Cooperation

Project managers are the key people for making their teams successful. When the group was set virtually they go to face to face meeting using communication technology, but these meeting will affect both cost and time for travel during the project (PMI 2004). The researchers had a doubt in mind that weather effective management of information and communication technology offer VT leaders to regain the lost control over influence and performance over their virtual or not. Here the researchers proposed research model to find out how technology adaption will relate to the building trust and cooperation in virtual teams. The descriptive findings of study suggests that it is important to adopt to the new technology frequently, According to Thomas & Bostrom (2008) The leaders failed to recognize technology adaptation although they recognized inherent tradeoff . Information and communication technologies usage failures will have a domino effect on productivity (Thomas & Bostrom, 2008) this means if the leaders fails to influence the team members and lost control over management power the whole team mechanism will lose its balance. Hence leaders can affect the team’s outcomes by managing adaptions of their team information and communication technology.

“Project managers doing virtual projects must look at the big picture and not micromanage,” (Fung, 2005: as cited in Jedd, 2006). Leader of virtual team should ensure standards are met and they should intervene with the team’s activity when there is a problem, like noncompliance of standards. They get to know the each and every team member and learn how to motivate them and communication preferences. It is suggestive that the people are happier when they left alone to do their work and team empowerment was positively related to process improvement and customer satisfaction vice versa. The project leaders first they should understand clearly about the project and its objectives they are working on. After that they have to determine the essential skills required for the projects to select the subordinates. Trust is developed through guidance, not by micromanaging (Jedd, 2006)

Leadership in Self-Managed Virtual Teams

In most of the organizations virtual teams are typically project based with a limited time of life span and little deliverables. These teams are self-managed and do not have any designated leader to lead those teams (Yukl 1998; as cited Carte, Chidambaram, & Becker, 2006). “In this electronic context, might be better viewed as a collective effort distributed among team members characterized by the sharing and rotating of leadership roles” (Zigurs 2003; Avolio 1999; as cited in Carte, Chidambaram, & Becker, 2006). Although teams typically do not have any leader assigned these teams will have external supervision. Within such teams we can find diverse qualities of leadership behaviors exhibited by team members.

The study was conducted on 22 virtual teams which had under graduate students of three university, this experiments had diffusion threat and time threat to external validity. Because of the communication exchanges among high performance teams characterized by high level of directive leadership and the behaviors exhibited among the teams mate during leaders were not persistence in accordance of time.

For me this research gives a better idea that, the Article focused more on identifying emergent leadership behavior. It found that leadership behavior was strongly associates with performance of these self managed teams. Author suggests that shared monitoring and concentrated producing behaviors were more likely to exhibit by high performing teams. Subordinates exhibit the leadership behaviors early in team’s life which are more predictive of success than those exhibited later during the process of emergent. “The two likely bi products of the shared commitment to high quality team’s outcomes are better relational development and greater trust among team members” (Carte, Chidambaram, & Becker, 2006). In order to ensure the self managed teams are more successful both individual and collective leadership behaviors plays major role.

Model of Conflict, Leadership, and Performance in Virtual Teams

Virtual teams are common in large organizations now-a-days and more professional employees are believed to work or already worked on virtual teams during their career. These virtual teams were dispersed geographically and culturally in order to facilitate the organization with round the clock work and to allow qualified professionals from all over the world. These virtual teams may be used as R&D, customer service, etc. Since the virtual teams have great diversity than collocated teams these virtual teams tend to have more conflict within the team. This study mainly concentrates on the model of conflict, Leadership and the performance of virtual teams with conflict. The leaders are subjected to Quinn’s (1984) model of leadership and evaluate their performance with respect to conflict solving skills.

The data for this study was collected from the virtual team members employed by a major U.S telecommunication corporation and virtual team members representing five firms in Korea. The firms and their location were chosen based on researcher’s personal contacts. The test measurements was based on hypotheses of different model’s like The monitor role and task conflict, Use of technology mediated communication, leadership role and team conflicts, Coordinator role and process conflict, Mentor role and relational conflict, Facilitator role and form of conflict and leadership roles and leader effectiveness, Leader effectiveness and team performance. All the teams are subjected to participate in electronic communications likes emails, group discussions, messaging, and video conference. The team’s leaders will virtually guide the teams to resolve the conflicts between the team members.

This research is motivated by interest in understanding how teams leaders can be effectively manage the conflicts with in virtual teams. Factors such as cultural diversity, geographical dispersion, few face to face meeting, increased complexity gave the momentum to virtual teams and it is critical to identify the factors contribute to virtual team’s success. The leaders involving with more transformational, directive and participative behaviors of leadership approach had the greater team success. The internal leadership roles will improve in managing the team’s conflict and leadership with these traits will be a better leader and the team will perform well in virtual environment.

Transformational and Transactional Leaders

Ruggieri, 2009 stated that the effects of transactional and transformational leadership on groups in which people interact in a virtual manner were analyzed and specifically the level of satisfaction and perception of the style adopted were evaluated. Most of the leaders who conducts transactional leadership will perceive the relationship as an exchange process between leader and follower (Bass & Avolio, 1993; as cited in Ruggieri, 2009). Namely there are four principle factors that are categorized under transformational leadership: charisma, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration (Bass & Avolio, 1993; as cited in Ruggieri, 2009).

The results suggest that the both transformational and transactional leadership perceived equally positive figures, Transformational leaders are intelligent and sensitive in many aspects of the leadership roles. Some of the leaders are oriented more towards the developing the relations of the subordinates rather than focusing on the goal of the team, these are known as charismatic leaders. They concentrate more on future and development of the workgroup. Since these leaders are involve in developing the personal relations and future minded they tend to induce more positive attitude in subordinates and motivates them to goal achievement. Apart from being intelligent these leaders are stuffed with more creativity and originality. On the other hand, some of the leaders are more tasks oriented rather than focusing on building relations; they are self esteemed and authentic about the job definition (Ruggieri, 2009). There are almost similar negative adjective coming to these two types of leaders.

The Multilevel regression analyses indicated that leaders’ mode of care reasoning was more positively related to follower reports of transformational leadership but not transactional leadership (Simola, Barling, & Turner, N. 2012).

The transformational approach had many dimensions of the leadership process. Generally, the process involves initiating, developing and carrying out changes in organization. Transformational leadership includes nourishing and empowering followers. Since the transformational leaders tend to show charismatic behaviors, these leaders can become role models to their followers. Transformational leaders encourage others and celebrate their accomplishments ( Simola, Barling, & Turner, N. 2012). By the end transformational leadership induces positive attitude in minds of followers making them feeling better overall and increase their contributions for achieving common goals.

The transformational leadership is more efficient than the other type of leaderships due to its authentic factors like motivation and trust, where other types of leadership will have some sort of inconsistency and trouble maintaining the relations with the subordinates.

The Effects of Leadership Style and Communication Medium

The authors explained the process briefly with their outcomes and effects on the subordinates in the teams. Actually leaders leading the teams virtually by using communication technology as a medium where the subordinates are geographically isolated. The purpose of the study is to evaluate the leadership and sort out the best possible approaches of the leaders to achieve success for the teams; this may include vast variety of approaches. Since all the teams are handled virtually the communication between the team members will be in different kinds like text messaging, emails, video conference, tele conference , discussion and many more (Laura, Thomas, & Theresa. 2007). This study gives a better idea how the leaders are approaching the team members and type of interactions using by them to get the job done.

Study was the conducted with 30 graduate and under graduate students from the department of psychology acting as participants in six experimental conditions. Purpose of this study to evaluate the leaders by conducting experiments in all possible conditions and ensure that all the leaders are successful with the teams and typically time taken to complete the task on individual basis and as a team

According to my opinion the success of the team depends up on the type of style leader is using on the team mates and their interaction, since all the communication is virtual there are lot of constrains taken in to consideration like time, schedules, cultural and thought barriers, technical issues and every aspect will affect the team’s performance (Laura, Thomas, & Theresa. 2007).

Conclusion

Finally, leading virtual teams requires all of the leadership and project management skills. The communication through electronically and in person is not same, Behavior of the emerging leader is associated to the performance of the self managed virtual team. Leaders can affect the team’s outcomes by managing adaptions of their team information and communication technology. “The two likely bi products of the shared commitment to high quality team’s outcomes are better relational development and greater trust among team members” (Carte, Chidambaram, & Becker, 2006). In order to ensure the self Transformational leaders are intelligent and sensitive in many aspects of the leadership roles (Ruggieri, 2009). Leading virtual teams requires all the leadership and project management skills. The communication through electronically and in person is not same, because the authors like Malhotra, Majchrzak, & Rosen, 2007 stated that the “Synchronizing efforts of geographically, culturally and technically diverse team does not happen magically” and they stated that it’s hard to motivate and influence people electronically. According to my opinion the success of the team depends up on the type of style leader is using on the team mates and their interaction. The change in management principles can enhance the leader’s ability to overcome challenges that virtual teams present (Levasseur, 2012). Hopefully, as a result, leaders everywhere will better understand what to do to enhance the performance of their virtual teams. The internal leadership roles will improve in managing the team’s conflict and leadership with these traits will be a better leader and the team will perform well in virtual environment.


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