As the world and technology progresses, leadership styles have had to adapt and change. This has been evident for some time. As corporations grow and spread into a global setting their leadership has had to adapt as well. The CEO of a corporation has to trust their subordinates to follow their decisions and most meetings are virtual through video or audio chat services. However, becoming a good virtual leader has never been as important as it is right now. Due to COVID-19 setting the world spiraling, many smaller companies and groups have had to adapt quickly, moving from meeting and working in person to a virtual setting. Working form home has become more common, but also can lead to more distractions and less productivity. Being a strong leader in a virtual setting can offset these potential problems and keep their followers working on the task at hand.
Prior research from Kirkpatrick and Locke (1991) states 6 traits that make an effective leader. These traits were derived from Sogdill’s 1974 list of 10 leadership traits, also known as the Great Man Theory. These sic traits included, drive, the desire to lead, honesty and integrity, self-confidence, cognitive ability, and knowledge of the business. (PSU WC 2020, L2). A leaders drive pushes them towards the goal that they are trying to attain and has them take responsibility for their followers. Having the desire to lead is necessary because it helps leaders want to take initiative and charge. Being honest and leading with integrity lets the followers trust what the leader stands for and says. Without self-confidence and knowledge of the business, the leader would lose their following because no one would believe that they truly deserve the position they are in. Finally, having a strong cognitive ability allows a leader to problem solve in the moment. These six traits alone are not enough to make a good leader. They must work together to accomplish whatever the organization is trying to.
Transitioning these traits to a virtual model of leadership, a 2007 study focused on what themes made an effective virtual leader. They started off by stating the “importance of the leader providing role and expectation clarity for virtual team members. Also, [the study] emphasized that effective virtual leaders need to encourage regular communication and establish various channels to support team communication” (Hambley, O’Neill, & Kline, 2007). Giving these expectations and encouraging their team members and following through with their words shows the important characteristics of honesty and integrity. Another theme the study discussed was setting goals. The leader should be responsible for setting goals for the team to accomplish during their work day. (Hambley, O’Neill, & Kline, 2007). Setting these goals shows that the leader has a desire to lead and whats their team to succeed. It also shows that the leader is going to drive them towards success. Lastly, the studies’ participants noted that it is important for a virtual leader to be trained specifically in how to lead virtually (Hambley, O’Neill, & Kline, 2007). Having this knowledge, in addition to the knowledge of the business, reassures the co-workers that the leader can fix any issues that may arise or answer any questions they may have.
Utilizing these traits is important in any leadership role you are in. Knowing that they transition fairly fluidly to a virtual setting is important as well. As we move past, Covid-19, the world will not be the same as it was before. It will have adapted into a world where it is easier to work from home or remotely. It will have educated leaders how to be present for their team members and followers, even though they may not be there in-person.
Hambley, L. A., O’Neill, T. A., & Kline, T. J. B. (2007). Virtual team leadership: Perspectives from the field. International Journal of e-Collaboration (IJeC), 3(1), 40-64. doi:10.4018/jec.2007010103
Pennsylvania State University World Campus (2020). PSYCH 485 Lesson 2: Leadership in Work. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/2075467/modules/items/30110370