Date of Conferral
Leading at a distance has emerged concurrently with complex global changes, resulting in the diverse use of technology, virtual teams, and collaboration as a way of solving problems and growing innovative and successful organizations. Little research has been done to explore the perceptions of individuals who lead virtual organizations. In the absence of such research, little is known about effective leadership processes in virtual environments. The purpose of this grounded theory study was to discover an explanatory theory, derived from data, which facilitates an understanding of effective virtual leadership systems and processes. This study used classic grounded theory methodology involving multiple extant data reviews (> 20) and a purposive sampling group of 77 virtual leaders, dispersed globally, who were interviewed using voice-over Internet protocol, phone contacts, and e-mail as data collection methods. The grand tour research question for this study examined issues leaders faced when leading/working virtually and the processes virtual leaders used to resolve the stated issues. Data were analyzed using open coding, sorting, memoing, constant comparative analysis, selective coding, and theoretical sampling. The key finding of this study was a generated theory of seducing engagement, addressing participants' main concern: the process of cultivating success in the virtual worker-learner. Engagement is viewed as a significant variable in successful virtual working, virtual leading, and organizational/company success. The results from this study might be used by global organizations to inform infrastructure and planning for virtual leading; to enhance the knowledge, training, and preparedness of virtual leaders; and to spur further research in a rapidly growing field.