The central location has become the virtual office, the virtual enterprise, which has translated into the virtual work team.
Utilizing virtual teams now allow organizations to bring together critical contributors in real time that might not otherwise be able to work together in a traditional work environment. Virtual teams can also add to the pool of resources available to any organization by opening the door to include people from outside the sponsoring organization such as supply chain affiliates, members of interconnected organizations, or external consultants. In many cases, the communication and insight from this type of 360 degree feedback is can give the organization an edge over their competitors.
The result is what has come to be termed a distributed work groups, or virtual teams as they are more commonly known. Like any team, a virtual team works on interdependent tasks guided by a common purpose. Like anymore traditional team, the group needs to have consistent and hands on leadership in order to keep the team focused on the tasks at hand, and facilitate progress. However, because these teams are located across space, time, and organizational and geographic boundaries, the challenges of leading the team have become an entirely new endeavor. As one researcher described it, because of advanced technologies and communication tools global teams are developing the ability to "work together apart" (Grenier and Meters, 1992),
In the light of these changing dynamics, leadership personnel must learn a new conflux of tools. "Management by walking around," a term made popular in the 1980's as a way to stay connected to those under the leaders direction is no longer possible. In addition, ineffective management styles which could be compensated for through personal contact now can destroy an organizations ability to communicate and achieve project goals effectively. Therefore, the team leader must be able to complete and facilitate a number of human relational dynamics without seeing his team face to face, including trust building, performance accountability, and conflict resolution.
So how does the manager adapt his or her personal style to the needs of the virtual work team in order to overcome the barriers created by different locations and organizational cultures The manager must:
1. have a clear understanding of the project goals and objectives.
2. have a deep understanding of how or her own management styles, it strengths and weaknesses
3. work to improve on his or her weaknesses, and utilize his or her strengths in order to create an environment of transformational leadership.
While many different personal evaluation tools have evolved during the past few decades, the Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI) seeks to help the manager understand his or her own personal weaknesses as well as strengths. The purpose of the SDI is to make the manager more aware of their own personality and relationship skills, both positively and negatively. The purpose of the SDI is not to give the learner a task list, but rather educate him to use his gifts more effectively while charting a path to develop his own weaknesses.
In the work team environment, an unidentified weakness can destroy the moral or cohesiveness within the group more quickly because of the limited personal contact the participants have with each other. "Team leaders typically find that achieving alignment and commitment