E-Leadership (Virtual Collaboration)

Why E-Leadership Is Important /  / Expected Outcomes

E-Leadership consists of managing a working environment where people interact through information and communication technology, which allows leaders to manage from a distance (Lilian, 2014). With the growing use of innovative technology, leaders need to learn how to collaborate with team mates across the world. As globalization continues, people with different skills and languages can come together to deliver internationalized services.

Some benefits of virtual teams include:

  • Around the clock support (24 hour IT support) because of different time zones
  • Cultural adaptation when breaking into new markets (language, attitudes, etc…)
  • Decreased costs from outsourcing strategies
  • Flexibility to fill in organizational gaps

 

Issues To Be Solved

Some of the challenges with e-leadership are trust, distance and time, and cultural differences (Lilian, 2014). Some disadvantages of virtual teams include:

  • Coordinating activities and meetings
  • Hard to keep members present and involved
  • Team building and motivation

Since virtual teams cannot easily go out for drinks every week, leaders need to make sure that there are opportunities for onsite and offsite team members to get to know each other. Team building is important because it encourages members to collaborate better (“Benefits & disadvantages of virtual teams” 2015).

Theories & Evidence

There is significant interconnect between empowering team leadership, virtual collaboration behaviours, and team performance (Hill & Bartol, 2015). Leaders make a difference in virtual teams, which are harder to manage than physical teams. Virtual teams overcome the geographical challenges that come with working in a globalized world. Since it is sometimes more cost effective, leaders need to know how to properly manage virtual teams in order to fulfil corporate objectives. Leaders can use virtual teams to merge team members from different functions or groups, increase opportunities to complete work in undesirable work locations, and accommodate to employees who don’t want to relocate (Lilian, 2014).

Implementation (Lilian, 2014)

  1. Begin interactions with social messages to initiate personal relationships
  2. Set clear roles, expectations, and actions to be taken for everyone to see
  3. Show positive attitudes (eagerness, enthusiasm)
  4. Reduce uncertainties and develop shared understanding
  5. Create joint challenges and goals
  6. Plan socializing activities to enhance team bonding
  7. Enhance feelings of closeness by using online applications
  8. Mitigate time related challenges (time zones, deadlines, etc…)
  9. Implement user-friendly technologies that people can learn quickly

Other Tips

  • Leverage video conferencing tools so that everyone can see each other face-to-face since they cannot see each other in person.
    • Skype or Google Hangouts are some free options
  • Utilize collaborative platforms to ensure that everyone can see tasks
    • Slack, Trello, Basecamp are some popular tools
  • Make the time to meet in person if possible
    • Plan for quarterly, semi-annual, or annual meetings where you can touch base in person

 

References

Lilian, S. C. (2014). Virtual Teams: Opportunities and Challenges for e-Leaders. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences,110, 1251-1261. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.12.972

Hill, N. S., & Bartol, K. M. (2015). Empowering Leadership and Effective Collaboration in Geographically Dispersed Teams. Personnel Psychology,69(1), 159-198. doi:10.1111/peps.12108

Benefits & disadvantages of virtual teams. (2015, March 13). Retrieved April 01, 2018, from https://www.marsdd.com/mars-library/virtual-teams-benefits-and-disadvantages/

 

 

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