Leading & Managing Virtual Teams Research Paper

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If a leader is accountable, honest and transparent, these values often get reflected throughout the teams they manage. Conversely if leaders of virtual teams are not as clear, fail to inform team members of critical dates and opportunities for communication or recognition, mistrust festers and can actually grow quickly over time. In a sense the best leaders of virtual teams strive for accountability, honesty and the opportunity to get key team members recognition to keep morale high. Managing morale of a virtual team is heavily dependent on a managers' ability to create the necessary social dynamics, instilling trust as a core value of their teams by being accountable and honest. The single greatest factor that dictates the effectiveness of social dynamics for virtual teams is the leader's attitude and beliefs concerning accountability, honesty, transparency and trust (Morris, 33) . In virtual teams the leader's attitudes are the compass that points the direction for all team members; it is by far the greatest single influencer of a team's success or failure.

Analyzing the Key Success Factors of Virtual Teams

Knowledge of complex processes and the ability to re-architect them if necessary, a clear assignment of roles and responsibilities, and the ability to quickly create ad hoc teams are three of the most critical success factors for virtual teams (Vaccaro, Veloso, Brusoni, 1278) (Shriberg, et.al.). Starting with process expertise, virtual teams are often given more complex and in-depth tasks as it is assumed they will be more focused and ability to delve more deeply into them. As is the case with the U.S. Army and their approach to managing their supply chains, this is certainly the case. Relying on supply chain experts to support massive, country-wide missions is a case in point. The second, a very clear assignment of roles and responsibilities is critical to ensure there is no duplication of effort across a virtual team. Giving virtual team members the opportunity to attain autonomy, mastery and purpose of their areas is also based on this second success factor. Finally the ability to create ad hoc virtual teams across their own reporting and organization boundaries is critically important for the full strength of an organization to be applied to complex problems. Creating ad hoc teams across virtual organizations is an area where the U.S. Army has concentrated its efforts through the integration of collaboration-based technologies and the use of Web 2.0-based communications platforms, the design goals of which are shown in Appendix A of this analysis. Taken together these key success factors are making it possible for virtual teams to address increasingly complex problems and challenges. Through the use of collaborative working techniques and technologies they are also attain greater results in many cases than traditionally organized teams.


Managing and leading virtual teams is one of the most challenging aspects of organizational behavior today. It is also representative of how the necessary management and leadership skills must be first developed before the highly collaborative technologies based on Web 2.0 design objectives (O'Reilly, 10) are applied to them. Communicating in a technological world paradoxically forces an even greater focus on the fundamental skill sets of effective management and leadership, as technologies serve to amplify communications and management strategies (Konradt, Hoch, 18-21). Never before have managers and leaders had to concentrate on how their actions, decisions, and statements impact their subordinates and the broader organization around them. The choice of many organizations to create virtual teams is being driven primarily by the ability to get exceptional expertise anywhere on in the world (Lee-Kelley, Sankey, 51). Using the Internet and collaborative technologies as the platform for creating and strengthening communication across virtual team members must be based on exceptionally strong leadership skills, as this analysis has shown. To excel in the managing of virtual teams is to create a high level of trust with each virtual team member and also nurture trust across all team members as well. Exceptional virtual team leaders also have the ability to instill autonomy, mastery and purpose, strengthening subordinates as well.


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