Leading the Virtual Workforce
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World markets are unsteady, unemployment is on the rise, housing foreclosures are up, asset values are down, and the political landscape is shifting. Under such tumultuous conditions, people often look to leaders to soothe battered nerves. But in today's rough and tumble environment, there are reportedly few leaders the average person relies upon.

Over 80 percent of Americans believe that we are in the midst of a major leadership crisis. And over 75 percent of executives from around the world are seriously concerned about whether businesses can develop good leaders for the future. And yet not one leadership book squarely addresses the issue of the changed workforce, the virtual workforce, and why old leadership models just don't work—until now.

Leading the Virtual Workforce builds off the ground-breaking concept of Virtual Distance introduced in Sobel Lojeski's seminal first book, Uniting the Virtual Workforce. And in never-before-published interviews, leaders from IBM, Merck, Western Union, Alcatel-Lucent, HP, AT&T, and more share detailed case studies about what's different about leadership today and how to become a great leader in the Digital Age. Leading the Virtual Workforce covers:

  • The most common myths about leadership for today's virtual workforce
  • Why old leadership models need to be reshaped for a new era
  • What great leaders do differently to thrive in the globally connected enterprise
  • A new leadership model custom-built for today's workforce realities
  • Advice from the greats for those looking to advance their leadership and management effectiveness for the virtual workforce

The virtual workforce is a relatively new phenomenon. The Virtual Distance Model provides the quantitative data and predictive power needed to understand how new behaviors, born out of the Digital Age, impact performance, innovation, and other critical success factors. And now the time has come to reshape leadership models to best serve worldwide organizations in the twenty-first century. Leading the Virtual Workforce does just that—paving the way for future leaders to create unmatched competitive advantage and performance improvements in the growing world of virtual work.


KAREN SOBEL LOJESKI, PHD, is a Professor at Stony Brook University in the Department of Technology and Society, author, and founder of Virtual Distance International (VDI), an advisory firm specializing in virtual teams, leadership, innovation and learning in the new millennium. Prior to launching VDI and joining Stony Brook, Karen spent eighteen years in corporate America. She held leadership positions at Chase Manhattan Bank N.A., Mercer Consulting Group, and Stratus Computer, Inc. She was Chief Operating Officer for Prolifics, a JYACC company, and Vice President of North America for Xansa. She is a popular speaker on Virtual Distance and other unintended consequences of technology in the wired workplace, school systems, families, and society as a whole.


Microsoft Executive Leadership Series: Series Foreword ix

Preface xi

About the Interviewees xxi

Acknowledgments xxxiii

Chapter 1  1

A Whole New World

Chapter 2 17

A Brief History of Leadership

Chapter 3 33

Creating Context

Chapter 4 49

Cultivating Communities

Chapter 5 61

Co-Activating New Leaders

Chapter 6 77


Chapter 7 93

The Virtual Distance Leadership Model

Chapter 8 113

The Future of Leadership As We Know it

Chapter 9 123

A Different View of Leadership Altogether

Appendix A 141

The Virtual Distance Model

Index 151