Leadership of virtual teams is complex and problematic and requires heightened awareness of the interpersonal behaviors that motivate, involve, direct, and support team members dispersed geographically and by time. This research examines the impact of three sets of leadership behaviors described in FIRO theory—inclusion, control, and affection—on team motivation, cohesiveness, and effectiveness.
A sample of 221 virtual team members who constitute 31 operational virtual teams across four business organizations responded to an online survey designed to measure perceived leadership behaviors in the three FIRO areas, as well as perceived team cohesiveness and perceived team motivation. External team supervisors responded to a separate survey and provided an external evaluation of each virtual team‘s effectiveness. The data analysis relies on bivariate correlational methods, and the findings show significant positive relationships between perceived leadership behaviors and motivation (.460) and perceived leadership behaviors and cohesiveness (.453), as well as positive correlations between team cohesiveness and team motivation (.525). Of the three leadership behaviors, perceived affection exhibits the highest correlation with team cohesiveness (.476) and motivation (.453).
Accordingly, this study contributes a new, validated, reliable, 30-item questionnaire to evaluate team members‘ perceptions of expressed FIRO behaviors in virtual team settings. Therefore, human resource managers gain a practical tool for evaluating virtual team members‘ perceptions of a leader‘s behavior. Combined with the motivation and cohesiveness scales, this leadership behavior feedback questionnaire offers managers a means to ascertain the motivation, cohesiveness, and leadership perceptions of virtual teams.