WHEN WE FIRST DISCOVERED THAT PERSONAL computers could assist someone in working from home, I suspect we did not foresee the ultimate outcome—the move toward virtual teams. Slowly and steadily, we have broken down the model of all workers residing in a single location and working side by side. The use of home-based workers is being combined with outsourcing—and now crowdsourcing—to result in a new model for getting work done.
Yet again, technology has spawned a major change in the business world by allowing team members to collaborate across great distances. Wonderful efficiencies come with this capability, and it certainly allows for more velocity in assembling teams and then reassembling them when new conditions or projects arise. The ability to lead virtual teams is yet another example of a new skill that a modern leader must have. This type of leadership has unique dynamics that do not exist when everyone is side by side in the office. Do it well, and you create lots of speed and efficiency in leveraging talent. Do it poorly, and you create horrible inefficiencies that will drag you down and force you back into the traditional model of working. Strangely, there has been little attention paid to the best practices for leading and assembling virtual teams.