Effective Leadership Principles of Virtual Teams

Since the mid-1990s, virtual teams have become the mainstay for many organizations (Kirkman, Rosen, Gibson, Tesluk & Simon, 2002, p. 67). Technological and telecommunication advancements have made it possible for organizations to engage in business virtually, to establish a global reach into new markets, and to facilitate practices that are not bound by geographic location (p. 68). As such, organizations deploy virtual teams or virtual groups, comprised of individuals spread across the globe, to support business needs and to distribute business directives. Brandt, England and Ward (2011) define virtual teams as “individuals working together who have never met each other in person and probably will not meet face-to-face during the assigned project” (p. 62). Virtual teams, by their nature, provide organizations “access to previously unavailable expertise, enhanced cross-functional interaction, and the use of systems that improve the quality of the virtual team’s work” (Townsend, DeMarie, & Hendricks, p. 17, 1998). Virtual teams provide many benefits to organizations, but because team members are dispersed geographically, virtual team leaders face challenges to create groups that are high functioning and productive (Quisenberry & Burrell, 2012, p. 98). Consequently, communication ability and leadership behavior are two of the most critical components necessary to help virtual teams perform well and to succeed in a global marketplace. This brief paper will consider the importance of communication skill and leadership behavior in order to suggest guidelines leaders should consider when building, managing, and communicating with virtual teams.