Newswise — As more companies and workplaces keep some form of teleworking policies, leading employees in virtual work environments becomes more demanding because the dynamics of an in-person office and a virtual one are inherently different. So to lead effectively, what skills take on greater emphasis in virtual settings?

A comprehensive review of virtual leadership research, led by N. Sharon Hill, associate professor of management at the George Washington University, identified three key leadership behaviors that take on greater significance in virtual settings. Those include:

  • Setting the course: stating clear objectives and expectations, as it is easy for team members who are not co-located and have little face-to-face interaction to not be on the same page
  • Empowering the team: encouraging employees to manage their own performance while also providing the guidance and support needed to help them be successful
  • Creating strong social ties: building solidarity and camaraderie among virtual team members, which motivates them to act in the best interests of the team even when their actions are not visible to others

The researchers say the final leadership behavior, aligning technology with team needs, is unique to the virtual environment because team members have to rely on electronic communication. It requires virtual leaders to make sure their team has the proper hardware and software to get the job done, the knowledge and ground-rules to use them, and to adapt its use as circumstances change.

The paper, “Leading Virtually,” was published by the journal, Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior. To speak with Professor Hill or to request a copy of the paper, please contact GW Media Relations Specialist .

Journal Link: Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior