The study shows that, instead of those with the most dynamic voices in the room, virtual teams informally anoint leaders who actually do the work of getting projects done. â€œThey are the individuals who help other team members with tasks, and keep the team on schedule and focused on goals,â€ says lead author Radostina Purvanova, an associate professor of management and leadership at Drake University in the US state of Iowa.
The ascendance of worker bees to remote leadership roles may provide validation â€“ and even relief â€“ to the legions of hard workers who have, for generations, watched charming colleagues rise to the top.
In other words, virtually, the emphasis shifts from saying to doing. This discovery is timely, as most of our workplace in-person teams are now all or partially digital operations in the wake of the pandemic.
â€œIn face-to-face interactions, most of us are very easily swayed by the power of personality,â€ says Purvanova. â€œVirtually, we are less swayed by someoneâ€™s personality and can more accurately assess whether or not they are actually engaging in important leadership behaviours. People are more likely to be seen based on what they actually do, not based on who they are.â€