With globalization has come the emergence of virtual teams. Virtual teams are important for organizations that conduct business and connect with people all over the world. Virtual teams use technology in order to communicate and attain goals, rather than the conventional face-to-face methods. Because communication is such a viable part of team work, Hill’s Team Leadership Model becomes even more important when a dealing with virtual communication (PSU WC, 2014, L. 9). This model illustrates that leaders of teams should continuously monitor and intervene in order to predict, diagnose, remedy, and prevent internal and external issues that could affect the efficiency and success of the team (Northouse, 2013). This is more challenging for virtual teams than more conventional ones because communication does not always occur at the same time or place. Sometimes, it can occur via email or discussion board, when team members participate at their leisure. This can be due to the nature of the task or time differences of the different locations. There are clear advantages and disadvantages to virtual team work; but none-the-less, the Team Leadership Model needs to be handled more delicately to ensure success and effectiveness.
There are numerous advantages of virtual teams. First, it connects people all over the world. Individuals from different cultures and beliefs are able to come together to share experiences and reach goals. Second, it is convenient since communication does not have to be simultaneous. It allows individuals’ to communicate at any time, whether they are at work, at home, on vacation, or travelling (PSU WC, 2014, L. 9). With those advantages come a few disadvantages of virtual teams. First, communication is difficult since it does not occur face-to-face. Often times, communicating through text-based technologies is not as effective as verbally talking to team members. Second, it is hard for leaders to emerge (PSU WC, 2014, L. 9).
There are five ways virtual teams can be as effective as more conventional teams. The leader, or leaders, must be willing and able to change from the norms of single location leaders. This stems from the fact that leading face-to-face is much different than leading in a virtual setting. Virtual teams must also utilize the communication technologies to their advantage, figuring out what works best for them and making the best of it. There must be a sense of trust between all the members. Team work relies on interdependency; especially in virtual teams since the members do not get to spend much time together in a singular location (Northouse, 2013). Thus, they need to trust that their fellow team members are capable and working hard enough. The design of the team, or how they work, is also important. The team needs to be designed based on individual strengths and weakness, as well as consideration of the context and different environments, in order to enhance the process of reaching the common goal. Lastly, taking advantage of the cultural diversity in decision-making and creative processes will lead to stronger final outcomes (PSU WC, 2014, L. 9).
Based on the details about virtual teams, I think shared leadership is much more beneficial than individual leadership. All of the team members need to follow the Team Leadership Model by continuously monitoring and intervening in order to produce the best results. Shared, or distributed, leadership can benefit the group because they are all aware of the team’s strengths and weaknesses and the external factors affecting the team. These issues can also be different for each individual in each different location, so it is important that all members are continuously creating mental models of the situation. Northouse (2013) calls this mental model the first step of the Team Leadership Model. Once all of the members of any virtual team led by shared leadership have an appropriate mental model, they can work together to make sure they are effective.
Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and practice (6th ed.). Los Angeles: SAGE.
Pennsylvania State University World Campus (2014). Psych 485 Lesson 9: Team Leadership. Retrieved from https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/fa14/psych485/001/content/09_lesson/printlesson.html