Caulat (2008) sums up new findings in virtual leadership environment. A few points that are key findings are as follows:
- A complete working strategy must be developed for virtual work environment addressing the technological, social and psychological needs of their employees when it comes to virtual working.
- Virtual teams of work can perform effectively by getting different kind of attention from different hierarchical level. The work nature may become different for staff level employee or for manager level employee.
- Mutual leadership and trust formation are the key factors that make a virtual team work. For this purpose ability to negotiate, contract, resource and review in relation to virtual team work.
- Virtual teams work require strong communication, availability to respond to each other well and team intimacy and trust.
- Trust and intimacy can develop even if people have not met face-to-face. ‘Anonymity’ can help trust and intense relationships to develop.
- The teleconferencing etiquette is growing to bring virtual workers close together and build strong connecting working environment virtually.
- New leadership skills are required to help strong and trustful relationships develop in a virtual environment.
- New ways of working must be created for better understanding among virtual workers so that they may be able to connect and work with each other as a team being geographically apart.
Success and Communication in Virtual Project Teams
The whole concept of virtual leadership of an organization is dependent on the communication means available. Fortunately, technology has advanced to a level that allows virtual leaders to communicate with their staff members using a wide range of communication devices ranging from instant messages to live video conferencing.
Let us review briefly the communication mediums available for contact between virtual leader and his employees and their usage to bring the globally apart units close together. Each communication media may be used to specific purpose and more than one medium may be employed together for more effective communication:
Sharing documents: Sometimes Virtual leader and employee may only need to share documents among themselves with no verbal or textual communication required. This may be a case where all instructions may already have passed to the employee for a related task by the virtual leader and only require to share the specific document now. Many websites on the internet provide this facility of uploading and sharing documents between multiple users.
Communication through e-mail: A set of instruction or a task outline can be sent by the virtual leader through e-mail for review which can later be followed up with meetings or teleconferencing.
Communication through text messaging software: Online chat software can be used for instant text messaging if one to one meeting or a small group meeting is required.
Communication through voicemail: If text instructions don’t provide clarity for the employee then a virtual leader can use a voicemail message to send instructions for a job.
One-way communication through teleconferencing: For one-way communication with the staff members teleconferencing may be a good choice.
Real live video conferencing: For two-way interactive conferencing among the virtual leader and his staff members like a discussion meeting then video conferencing can be used.
The Effect of Leadership Style and Communication Medium on Team Interaction Style and Outcome
The important thing in a virtual leadership organization is to stay connected and be available for each other. (Jestice,2009) also points out the importance of communication when assignments are spread out globally apart. She explains in her article how lack of communication pulled her back for finishing her scheduled work on time.
The work that I have accumulated here has been a result of extensive searching on the subject among online journals and other informative articles on the internet. Their information was then rechecked to confirm its authenticity.
V. Questions or Hypothesis
Following are the questions we wish to acknowledge with our study and to get better acquainted with the answer:
“It is not known and to what extent how virtual leaders perceive themselves”.
“It is not known and to what extent the role of communication plays in virtual leadership.”
“It is not known and to what extent the level of job satisfaction that is experienced by staff who have virtual leaders.”
My hypothesis is “Staff members have a positive perception about virtual leadership”.
I would like to put forward a case study relevant to this report and which supports my hypothesis and then I would conduct a survey and analyze and compare the results to get meaningful insight for the readers.
According to Sherk, Nauseda, Johnson, and Liston (2009) The VLDP (Virtual Leadership Development program) is an effective program for developing the management and leadership capacity of HR managers in health. This lesson was learned when groups like the Global Health Workforce Alliance and the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as agencies such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other donors came forward to provide virtual leadership on a global level. Developed by Management Sciences for Health (MSH) with support from USAID, the program has been delivered to more than 1900 participants in more than 45 countries in Africa, Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean and Latin America and the Caribbean as of December 2008.
The VLDP is a Web-based program that strengthens the capacity of teams to identify and address health challenges and produce results. It is available in Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Rather than giving a few senior managers off-site leadership training for one or two weeks, the VLDP trains teams via the Internet over the course of 13 to 16 weeks.