Case 12.1: Can This Virtual Team Work?

The team leadership model places leadership in the driver’s seat of team effectiveness basically providing a mental road map to help the leader, or any team member who is providing leadership, to diagnose team difficulties and take appropriate action to correct any problems discovered. In case 12.1, Jim Towne is heading up a newly formed virtual team of 20 professionals who live and work around the world. The team does not have a clear goal, a collaborative climate or a principled leader. The task (in the case) is “to develop and implement technology innovations for all global business units” which is vague in description and the team seems to be having an issue working out the details of how to accomplish this. The ability of the team to collaborate is essential to its effectiveness yet no-one seems to have the time or take the time to focus on this. And lastly, Jim is not influencing the team to succeed. To be an effective leader, one needs to respond with the action that is required of the situation. Jim needs to intervene at this time and take action internally, both task and relational, concentrating on:

  • Goal focusing-clarifying, gaining agreement
  • Structuring for results-planning, visioning, organizing, clarifying roles, delegating
  • Facilitating decision making-informing, controlling, coordinating, mediating, synthesizing, focusing on issues
  • Collaborating-including, involving team members
  • Building commitment-being optimistic, innovating, envisioning, socializing, rewarding, recognizing

Jim should implement motivational and coordinating leadership functions to help the team build cohesiveness and strategies to adapt to change. He can enhance the effectiveness of the team by keeping them focused on its goals, maintaining a collaborative climate, setting priorities and gaining feedback from the team. Continually assessing the standards of team effectiveness via direct observation, surveys, feedback and performance indicators will Jim to determine whether past actions and interventions had the desired results.

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