What are your thoughts about this? What skills and abilities does a manager need in order to lead effectively in a virtual environment? Do you believe a leader with a consideration style or an initiating structure style would be more successful as a virtual leader?

In order to lead effectively in a virtual environment, a manager needs to be calm, flexible, and able to relate to the team members working under him or her. It might be argued that an initiating structure style, focusing on the task at hand rather than on the people working on the task, will lead to greater success as a virtual leader.

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What matters is your thoughts on this question, not mine. I can help you think of ways to discuss the pros and cons of a consideration management style versus an initiating structure management style in a virtual environment.

You might want to remember that a virtual environment shares many of...

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What matters is your thoughts on this question, not mine. I can help you think of ways to discuss the pros and cons of a consideration management style versus an initiating structure management style in a virtual environment.

You might want to remember that a virtual environment shares many of the same elements as a physical environment. You’re still dealing with people. You still have to accomplish certain objectives.

Considering the above, you might want to say that the ideal style would be a combination of the two. Interpersonal problems don’t diminish because you’re now interacting with people over the internet instead of in person. You’re still interacting with people and their concomitant feelings and emotions.

Conversely, the imperative to maintain standards and accomplish tasks shouldn’t diminish because you can now work from home and over the internet. You still have to make sure your team produces timely, high-quality work.

If anything, you might argue that the ideal virtual leader should probably double down on their consideration style and their initiating structure style in a virtual landscape.

To compensate for the lack of physical, personal interaction, a good virtual leader might go out of their way to make sure that their team members are expressing their feelings and any qualms or worries that they might possess.

More so, to make sure the absence of being in a physical office doesn’t lead to any laziness or lackluster efforts, a solid virtual leader might create tighter, more disciplined structures and roles.

Again, it seems like the best virtual leader wouldn’t choose one style over the exclusion of the other. It seems like they’d opt for a mixture of the two if they wanted to try and create a successful, dynamic virtual work environment.

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This is arguably one of the most relevant questions of a year in which COVID-19 has forced many companies around the world to work virtually.

A leader in a virtual environment will need to avoid having control issues and accept that micromanagement is almost impossible in scenario in which teams are working virtually. I would argue that they need to work hard to ensure that they have the respect of their team members, as there is little to stop team members slacking off if they are working virtually.

To answer the second part of your question, I need to define consideration behavior and initiating structure. The former, in a nutshell, focuses on the people working in your team. Initiating structure, on the other hand, focuses on the task at hand. For example, if you have a team of four people working on a marketing strategy, consideration behavior would focus on the team members. Initiating structure would focus on the progress towards completion of the marketing strategy.

I would argue that in the world of virtual work, managers should focus on initiating structures. To continue with the above example, as long as the marketing strategy is signed off on time, it does not matter what the team members are doing or when they chose to do their work. Short of firing somebody, it is very difficult to discipline a staff member who is working in a virtual environment. Trust and mutual respect are the way to go.

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Virtual managers should have good communication skills. Since they operate in a virtual environment, they must understand the different ways of effectively communicating with team members through email, chat, and social media. Virtual leaders should have communication guidelines and consider the time zones of different team members to ensure that information is relayed on time. Moreover, it is crucial for a virtual manager to have team building skills that will be used to motivate and unify team members since they come from different geographical regions.

Virtual leaders may face challenges especially when it comes to training team members and ensuring that they understand their roles. Due to geographical restrictions, they should follow an initiating structure to make sure that all team members understand their assigned tasks and complete them within the stipulated deadlines.

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This is a great question. There is a difference between a virtual manager and a traditional manager. To be sure, there are many overlapping qualities; however, there are a few key characteristics that a virtual manager needs. 

First, since there will be little personal interaction in the flesh, a virtual manager needs to be extra organized. It is hard enough to get things done, when there is personal interaction. In a virtual environment, where there is less pressure to perform, a manager needs to keep on top of things. He or she needs to inspire organization and competence. 

Second, a virtual manager also needs to keep tabs on people. As mentioned above, when people are alone often it is too easy to move at a snail's pace. In light of this, a virtual manager needs to be able to mark progress. He or she needs to implement this through technology. 

Third, a virtual manager needs to be prompt and decisive. There is something about technology that almost demands speed. Hence, he or she must use technology to direct people in a timely fashion. 

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