Clashes, Convergences and Coalescences
New Horizons in Leadership Studies series
Edited by Donna Ladkin and Chellie Spiller
Chapter 13: Viewpoint: why authenticity is most critical in the virtual space
The simple question ‘How can a virtual leader be authentic?’ might at first appear to be an oxymoron. However, my research indicates that for a virtual leader to be authentic and promote authenticity in his or her team is one of the most critical qualities – if not the most critical quality – for effective work in the virtual space. This chapter demonstrates this through the stories of people I’ve worked with and interviewed over the last ten years of studying leadership in the virtual space. I start by describing some of the key aspects of this space. For most people virtual working is associated with something that is not real and, for the vast majority of managers I have come across in organizations, personal contact can only equate to face-to-face contact. The interesting thing is, however, that the word ‘virtual’ is an old word, first appearing in the late fourteenth century and meaning ‘influencing by physical virtues or capabilities’, from virtualis and virtus, ‘excellence, potency, efficacy'.
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