Understanding Effective Leadership in Virtual Team Cultures -- Dawn M. Sieh
This study was based on interviews with virtual team members regarding their perceptions associated with effective virtual team leadership. “Leadership” was sub-divided as two types, formal and emergent. The interviews were conducted in two formats, a series of focus groups comprised of 5 to 7 participants and individual interviews with selected members of those focus groups. The roles of team leader and member were equally represented among the participants to allow for investigation into potential differences between the two. A grounded theory based approach supplemented with the qualitative analysis techniques of keyword in context (KWIC) and word count was utilized in order to generate propositions about effective leadership from the data. Findings include indications that it does indeed make sense to differentiate between formal and emergent leadership when discussing effectiveness in virtual teams and that the primary measure for evaluation is based on leader actions. In particular, this conclusion is supported by responses, from both leaders and followers, regarding types of effective leadership behaviors. The behaviors cited for formal leaders differed than those for emergent leaders across the dimensions of skills, process, person, and team. The study also provides insights into virtual team challenges, benefits, behavior, and roles. In particular, effective leadership was viewed as action-oriented, sensitive to style while trust was explicitly identified as being a critical success factor for virtual team leadership to cultivate.