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The Role and Scope of Virtual Project Manager in Leadership Development

With most parts of the world opening up economically and globalization becoming an all round reality, the work environment too have drastically changed over the years everywhere. The present environment that the modern economical world sees is a virtual world where the virtual project environment has come into the forefront as the new way of executing project plans till their execution within the allocated budget and time. In such a scenario the personnel required for the project are brought from different areas, countries, cultures and different linguistic communities in a collaborative manner without actually leaving their places.

Besides, these personnel may work as individual members or as teams and may be members of the lead organization having its branches in different geographical location or another organization or parts of other organizations and may work in different durations and lengths of time as it may deem fit for the area. The virtual environment created with the help of collaborative software makes it possible for individuals, teams and other project heads of the subdivided identifiable tasks to collectively yet remotely accomplish the common objectives of the lead organization for the timely completion of the assigned project.

The Virtual Project Manager must be able to

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communicate with diverse people to work towards the shared goal through the uses of VPM tools. In fact, these tools should be online or web based, easily programmed for scheduling and allocation of tasks among different teams, should be able to assign resources and activities with ease including changes, able to report the different task functionalities, speedy and efficient document managing, must be collaborative in nature and should have notification features.

There are two way which the Virtual Project Manager accomplishes his objectives. One, he may divide the whole project into several identifiable tasks and assign them to different teams situated in different geographical area and different time zones. Each of these identifiable tasks is then planned and executed as per the budget the lead organization’s project manager allocates. Here again, each of the identifiable sub projects or tasks may have a VPM of their own who all report to the lead organization’s Virtual Project Manager.

The lead organization’s VPM then combines all the results of these sub tasks in a collaborative way to implement the final project within the budget and the timeline allocated for the whole project. The other way is to plan and implement the whole project as one full project. Here, the VPM conducts the task assignments on a member to member basis of the whole team who in turn may perform the task in different geographical area. Here, the resource allocations and schedule adjustments are made on member to member basis of the whole team as all teams are collectively involved in the fruitful completion of the project.

Thus, the Virtual Project Manager of the lead organization has to accomplish each and every stage of the tasks through constant collaboration over the web in order to communicate, control, lead and formulate plans for each phase of the projects. Hence, the VPM should be a person with all requirements of an able administrator, collaborator, diplomat, a technical expert, a business man and a good trainer. Once, the project is completed the team is then disbanded. II. Significance of the Study

The study assumes importance in the light of the fast expanding economic horizon brought about by globalization in which firms compete to get their share of the market in the highly competitive environment. In order that the firms and organizations whether traditional or virtual has to put forth their abilities and core competencies in an increasingly uncertain, volatile and changing environment such that they can get the leverage over the other competitors, these firms or organizations has to create and embrace the latest advances in technologies.

One such advance is the virtual world of business where the knowledge transformation is so significant that the benefits like cost cutting, greater access to highly skilled manpower, better control over the resources and better coordinated efforts pave way for getting better exposures for tackling daunting and complex projects and business ventures. The Virtual Project Manager is the living example of a leader as he faces the most difficult task of budgeting, planning and implementing a virtual project for the lead organization.

Thus, the paper tries to establish the fact that the leadership qualities in a Virtual Project Manager is the most significant aspect of management as it is the VPM who can significantly contributes directly for the development of leadership within and outside the organization. In fact, the VPM has to act independently on the project of which he has been given the responsibility, has to recruit the virtual workforce as well as look after its budgeting, planning and implementing just like any other leader, perhaps even more so, with proven technical, organizational, entrepreneurial, administrative, collaborative and communicative skills.

It is the VPM, who like a true leader takes upon the responsibility of choosing the appropriate web based software tools, create the scheduling of tasks to be allocated to different members placed in different geographical areas, assigns their activities and allocates the resources for the same, manages the documents and creates the opportunities for continuous collaborative communication and training programs which even includes video conferencing.

Again, assuming that all leaders have their own personalities and charisma to get work done from their subordinates in traditional organization, the VPM however has even more challenging task for he or she has to control a much diversified personnel with extremely different culture and preferences and see to the successful completion of the project in a timely manner over a much larger area. Therefore, it is quite true to add that one who is entrusted to a virtual project attains leadership qualities over time for such are the impacts that he or she has to face in course of the journey over the project execution.

Further, each project which a VPM is assigned for is unique, separate and has to undergo the same level of difficulties and stress as the initial one as there is no repetition of tasks. It therefore follows that the VPM must have experience and skills necessary to interact with all types of human beings with the appropriate collaborative technologies for there are more chances of conflicts, irritants in job functionalities and erring members of team arising out of peculiarities of socio-cultural mix and languages that would prove a hurdle for smooth communication and the necessity for imparting specific training for the tasks involved.

Apart from these the VPM has to make a proactive approach in identifying virtual competent teams, design realistic job previews, design actual responsibilities and accountability for each task while giving the virtual team the empowerment to design the same, discussing the appropriate payment packages and incentives and further motivate the employees for enhancing performance by training and development and finally identify the pattern for giving due recognition and rewards for jobs well done.

Above all the VPM has to bring forth the completion of the project within the expected levels and imbuing total quality management in the whole virtual system. Therefore, this research paper would like to establish the link between the Virtual Product Manager and leadership and the way the VPM successfully makes use of the technological tools to bring about the successful completion of the virtual projects. The paper has further made it possible for students to undertake more studies in the above field and lay a sound foundation of their entrepreneurial skills and improve their competence level.

One observation is that the traditional level of management techniques and tools are quite insufficient to tackle and overcome problems of global dimensions. The second observation is the reality facing multinational companies and virtual projects about the relevance and unavoidable nature of managing future cross-cultural and linguistic teams with entirely different behaviors and preferences and methods. III. Objectives/Purpose of the Study The following are the objectives of this study which would throw enough light into the aspects of leadership development and help in achieving the aim of the research.

The study would concretely prove the efficacy of a VPM in conducting a complex virtual project and the leadership development skills that the participants would adopt by replicating the leadership qualities of the VPM. Objective One: Assess individuals who are possible qualifiers for leadership. Objective Two: Qualified individuals will undergo training on project management. Objective Three: Provide hands on process to have a basis for analyzing effectiveness. Objective Four: Monitor performance and focus on the person’s lax for further Improvements. Objective Five: Evaluate the performance and efficiency of the person.

IV. Review of Literature The literature review on the subjects by different scholars, authors and academicians are not yet been fully researched as there is still enough light to be thrown into the subject matter pertaining to the leadership through virtual project management. This is mainly because the virtual world is the latest introduction into the economical field and although its influence has spread far and wide there are still gaps in the literature for a comprehensive view of the nature of virtual projects as the same cannot be understood within a narrow spectrum of research.

One factor is that the implications of virtual project management and the difficulties as well as the results of it have to be drawn over a large geographical area in order to bring justice to the subject. Second, is that there is quite a few literature available and these may already have been outdated as the virtual scene is ever changing and the scope of literature to cover the same is quite difficult although not impossible. Yet, from the ideas and the general opinions gathered by scholars and authors suggests that the leadership ability of a Virtual Project Manager far supersedes the leadership capabilities of the traditional manager.

Perhaps in the coming decades the readers would be able to make further in-depth study into the subject as the world of project management is here to stay and should in all possibilities become a fertile ground for development of future leaderships. Based on these assumptions of the majority of scholars and academicians the leadership development through project management is indeed a realistic way of getting exposure to the art of entrepreneurial and leadership talent and that the Virtual Project Manager with the updated technological tools at his disposal is the future business leader.

This is not a small matter as the VPM need a great deal of cultural sensitivity, flexibility in approach, strong project management knowledge and should avoid making fatal assumptions that is all so very crucial for the positive outcomes of all global projects ( Nokes and Greenwood, 2003). The cultural sensitivity is a fact that all able virtual project manager should take into consideration for it goes without saying that all virtual projects are made up of teams that span countries and continents with behaviors, tastes and preferences unlike anything which the home country has seen.

Hence, virtual team leaders need to make sure that they draw in every member irrespective of community and culture to get the most of their expertise (Minkin, 2008). The same has been echoed by author Parchoma in a yet another way who says that effective leadership of virtual organization involves acquisition and judicial use of both productive power and social capital which is instrumental in increasing the associate and organizational capacity of the virtual projects (2005).

It is thus quite certain that the VPM has to make overtures to the various team members in a different and more proactive way than the traditional manager. According to the authors Gibson and Cohan, at the start of the project the VPM can improve shared understanding by encouraging the sharing of personal information like personal interests, work habits and expertise to ensure a consensus on high level project goals (2003).

The various literature has also pointed out that merely being a VPM is not sufficient for an individual to be successful in project management, but that the VPM must be effective in leadership which means that the person must be an all rounder including enacting the roles of a trainer too. The virtual manager is that person who assumes the role of a trainer as well as a facilitator unlike the traditional manager and the all the while making effective use of the right technological tools on a regular basis (Colfax and Santos, 2009).

This act of the VPM is perhaps the best way to instill the leadership qualities among other members including those subordinate project managers who have assigned the leadership of each breakdown tasks of the whole virtual project. Leaders have no greater responsibility than developing leadership and management skills of those who are subordinate to them and who are keenly observing them (Shultstad, 2009). This shows that the literatures have been almost unanimous in their opinion that the true leadership lies in a VPM for it is he or she who by themselves are self driven and in turn influence those who are in contact with them.

This truly speaks about their leadership virtues. A virtual team member must have self-leadership qualities in order to be a success and in turn become an example to be emulated by individuals who perform as virtual team and who too is self-motivated, self disciplined, good communicator and result oriented (Collins, Ernst and Smith, 2008). This is markedly so with diverse cultural groups and teams working for a virtual project as they come from a diversified areas and communities with aspirations of their own.

In a virtual project the underlining assumption is that the workgroups of culturally diverse members and value diversity leads to cognitive outcomes which make decisions of highly superior quality and problem solutions that have a wide range of perspective (Bachmann, 2006). Therefore, it follows that the leadership development through virtual project management can be made as a focal point of our study and can form the basis of further research for students and scholars alike.

This would mean the subject is still in its initial stages of development and has the potential for a good dissertation project in the future. V. Hypothesis The research paper underlines the importance of the Virtual Project Manager (VPM) for the development of leadership in virtual and other types of organizations. This reasoning primarily rests on the fact that the VPM is by far the best example in the business field to be emulated upon by the subordinates due to the uncertainty and the virtual way of managing a virtual project spanning different geographical area.

The task as we all know is not at all easy as the widely dispersed team has their own level of perception and is greatly influenced by the culture of the community and the place in which he or she belongs. Therefore, it stands to reason that the VPM in spite of his ability and his managerial capacities has to evolve more dynamics for bringing all members of the varied team for the overall goals of the project and as such there is a greater degree of uncertainty in the projects which only the very best VPM can possibly complete. Hence, for this proposal the research hypothesis is as follows.

‘If leadership is directly related to superior use of technological tools, then the Virtual Project Manager is the right tool for effective leadership development. ’ Here, the leadership is the dependent variable and the VPM who is referred as the right tool is the independent variable. By varying the capacity of the VPM the leadership aspect is directly influenced or the leadership is found in variance if the VPM is subjected to increase or decrease in skills. The thesis derives its importance due to the fact that such a thesis has not been researched before especially when leadership factor is taken into consideration.

There have been articles and thesis on virtual management as well as the virtual manager, but there is a dearth of research in this fast expanding horizon of leadership development through the skills and tools of a VPM VI. The Design Methodology and Procedures The proposed methodology for this research project is both qualitative and quantitative. The qualitative study could be done by going in-depth research on various literatures such as authenticated writing of different academicians, authors, authenticated journals and books.

This form of research is quite suitable as we are likely to see a lot more articles and authenticated journals and books referring to this particular topic. However, for the purpose of further research and for a potential dissertation on the subject this paper proposes a mix of both qualitative and quantitative study for bringing about a comprehensive understanding of the subject. For the quantitative study to be fruitful the paper proposes a set of questionnaire to be distributed through a sponsored website wherein the questions can be ticked off by participants or visitors to the site.

Taking the fact that all areas cannot be covered and that the dispersed population by and large is never going to get access the writer feels that the results of the random selection of the subjects would be sufficient to get an overall understanding of the leadership development through virtual project management. The questionnaire should be arranged in such a manner that the participants would be able to understand it quite simply enough and they would have to only tick it at the appropriate box made for the purpose.

The questionnaire is intended for the project managers of organizations, both profit and non-profit institutions and also for the new class of blooming virtual project managers. For the purpose of getting even better view points of participants in main industrial towns and cities, the writer proposes that the same questionnaire be distributed to leading managers, business scholars, academicians and other willing participants whose comments would undoubtedly prove to be valuable for all future researches.

VII. Limitations The quantitative research of this nature is full of limitations as there is every possibility of the majority of the population residing over a wide area spanning countries and continents. Further, the cultural aspects and languages for such questionnaires would prove to be a great barrier as many would opt for not going over the questionnaire and thus the research wouldn’t be able to get the extensive survey of the members of the team working in virtual organizations.

Hence, this paper suggests that the quantitative study be undertaken such that at least some light could be thrown into the topic and for the rest of the research the qualitative assessment be undertaken to give justice to the thesis proposed. Reference List Bachmann Anne Susann (2006). Melting Pot or Tossed Salad? Implications for Designing Effective Multicultural Workgroups. Cultural Diversity in Workgroups. Management International Review. Collins H.

Jerome, Ernst Robert and Smith Martin (2008). Virtual Teaming: Welcome to the 21st Century. Defense AT & L. Colfax S. Richard, Santos T. Annette and Diego Joann (2009). Virtual Leadership: A Green Possibility in Critical Times but can it really Work? Use of Available Tools. Journal of International Business. Gibson B. Cristina and Cohen G. Susan (2003). Virtual Teams that Work. Creating Conditions for Virtual Team Effectiveness. Implications for Practice. Pg. 33.

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