What is e‑Leadership?
Whatever your organization calls it - remote, virtual, distributed, or mobile work, smartworking or workshifting - this type of technology-mediated work has grown 103% since 2005 (globalworkplaceanalytics.com).
Virtual team members and their managers face complex challenges that effective e-Leadership skills can help navigate. The effective e-Leader is one who alligns team members with the appropriate communication tool for the team's objectives, communicates expectations and goals, and connects all members of the team by using a cross cultural perspective to manage conflict and complexity.
A survey of 58 senior executives in global companies found the following list of challenges commonly faced by virtual teams:
- cultivating trust
- overcoming lack of face-to-face contact / isolation
- overcoming communication barriers
- aligning goals of individual team members
- obtaining clarity regarding team objectives
- ensuring that the team possesses knowledge and skills
- ensuring the availability of technology resources
- dealing with role uncertainty because members are on too many virtual teams.
(Govindarajan and Gopta, 2001)
How common are virtual team failures?
Govindarajan & Gopta (2001) found that only 18% of 70 virtual teams in their study considered their performance “highly successful” and the remaining 82% did not meet their intended goals. 25% of teams were not performing “to par." Others have singled out goal alignment, knowledge sharing, motivation (Zander & Makela, 2013) as major challenges. Zander & Makela suggest that conflict often arises from false assumptions and unspoken tacit knowledge.