Overcoming Leadership Challenges in Boundaryless Organizations

Nov 8 / Jerry Morla, MBA, MSL, PMP®
Virtual teams in boundaryless organizations face challenges in communication, coordination, trust, cultural differences, performance, technology, time zones, isolation, accountability, and face-to-face interaction. Overcoming these obstacles demands proactive strategies, including clear communication, collaboration tools, and trust-building. Effective leadership engagement is crucial. The article below delves into these challenges and the potential of shared-leadership for overcoming these and boosting performance.
In today's rapidly evolving global landscape, the concept of work and team collaboration has transcended physical boundaries. Increasingly, teams are no longer restricted to working in the same location, and the rise of virtual and non-collocated teams is reshaping the way organizations operate. However, this increasing transition to remote work has come with its fair share of challenges for leaders. In boundaryless organizations, many non-collocated teams struggle to meet their objectives due to reduced coordination abilities, differences in values and cultural backgrounds, and performance issues related to knowledge-sharing and creativity. In response to these challenges, researchers have turned to shared-leadership as a promising governance arrangement that can help virtual and non-collocated teams thrive.

Challenges in Leading Non-Collocated Teams

Coordination Difficulties
Fuller and Harding (2015) found that over 50% of non-collocated teams fail to meet their objectives due to reduced coordination ability. In traditional collocated settings, team members can easily communicate and coordinate their efforts face-to-face. However, this becomes significantly more challenging when team members are scattered across different locations, time zones, and cultures. Effective coordination is essential for achieving common goals, and a lack thereof can hinder team performance.

Cultural and Behavioral Differences
Davison et al. (2017) emphasize that differences in values, cultural backgrounds, and behaviors among virtual or non-collocated team members are harder for leaders to influence when face-to-face communications are limited. In a virtual setting, it is more challenging to understand and adapt to the diverse perspectives and communication styles of team members from various cultural backgrounds. These differences can lead to misunderstandings, reduced trust, and ultimately affect team cohesion and performance.

Performance Issues
Performance issues in virtual or non-collocated teams extend to areas like knowledge-sharing and creativity. Han et al. (2017) discovered that virtual teams often struggle with sharing knowledge and fostering creativity due to physical separation and limited face-to-face interaction. This limitation can hinder the innovation and problem-solving abilities of the team, leading to suboptimal outcomes.

Shared-Leadership as a Solution

In response to the challenges posed by non-collocated teams in boundaryless organizations, shared-leadership has emerged as a promising governance arrangement. Johansson et al. (2018) suggest that shared-leadership is an innovative approach to overcome the limitations of physical distance and improve team performance in various aspects.

Increased Communication
Shared-leadership encourages open and continuous communication among team members. Instead of relying solely on a single leader, all team members share in the responsibility of guiding the team. This approach promotes frequent communication, ensuring that team members stay connected and informed.

Trust Building
In non-collocated teams, trust is essential, as physical cues are limited. Shared-leadership promotes trust-building by allowing team members to understand each other's strengths, weaknesses, and work styles. As team members collaborate in leadership roles, they develop a deeper understanding and trust in one another.

Relationship Building
Shared-leadership fosters strong interpersonal relationships among team members. It enables team members to work closely with each other and build connections, even in the absence of face-to-face interactions. These relationships are crucial for effective teamwork and collaboration.

Increased Collaboration
Collaboration is a key element of shared-leadership. With multiple team members sharing leadership responsibilities, the team can benefit from diverse perspectives and ideas. This collaborative approach enhances problem-solving, innovation, and creativity, addressing the performance issues faced by non-collocated teams.

To close...

The challenges associated with leading virtual or non-collocated teams in increasingly boundaryless organizations are real, but they are not insurmountable. Shared-leadership has emerged as a promising governance arrangement that can address the limitations of physical distance and improve team performance in various aspects. By promoting increased communication, trust building, relationship building, and collaboration, shared-leadership offers a solution to the coordination difficulties, cultural differences, and performance issues commonly faced by virtual and non-collocated teams. As organizations continue to embrace boundaryless work arrangements with remote work and global collaboration, shared-leadership may become an essential strategy for ensuring team success in an increasingly virtual world.

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About the author: 
Jerry Morla MBA, MSL, PMP®, KoD Founder, draws from decades of experience in technology oriented projects and virtual team leadership, coupled with graduate research work in the areas of organizational development and leadership, with focus on emerging management models.

This article leverages AI to reframe and rephrase the author's original academic research, providing fresh insights into the challenges experienced by non-collocated teams and the merits of shared leadership.

Davison, R. M., Panteli, N., Hardin, A. M., & Fuller, M. A. (2017). Establishing effective global virtual student teams. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 60(3), 317-329.

Fuller, R. M., & Harding, M. (2015, January). The impact of interaction anticipation and incentive type on shared leadership and performance in virtual teams. In 2015 48th hawaii international conference on system sciences (pp. 732-741). IEEE.

Han, S. J., Chae, C., Macko, P., Park, W., & Beyerlein, M. (2017). How virtual team leaders cope with creativity challenges. European Journal of Training and Development, 41(3), 261-276. 

Johansson, C., Bedggood, R., Farquharson, K., & Perenyi, A. (2018). Shared leadership as a vehicle to healthy service eco-systems: practical or fanciful?. Journal of Social Marketing, 8(2), 159-181.