In a market fraught with uncertainty, many companies have focused on cutting expenses and increasing productivity and efficiency as a way to stem market share losses and reverse downward sales trends. This often means downsizing and reorganizing to reduce labor costs, eliminate redundancy, and better target scarce resources.
In the process, offices have been closed, divisions and departments merged, employees dispersed, and leaders challenged to manage wider spans of control—often covering multiple locations. In the changed global business landscape, gaining competitive advantage will depend in part on the ability of business units, divisions, and functional departments to collaborate successfully across a whole new set of boundaries.
Collaboration, however, does not necessarily occur without thought or effort, even among people separated only by a floor or a cubicle wall. Teams, the workhorse units of the organization, are increasingly “virtual,” consisting of people working across space, time zones, and often cultural boundaries. As virtual teams become more and more a reality for growing numbers of people, leading them effectively is critical for companies wishing to exploit the opportunities for achieving high-priority business goals.