What Leadership Style Is Most Effective In A Virtual Workspace?

What leadership style is most effective in a virtual workspace? Here we delve deeper into a few of the more common leadership styles to see if one can emerge the victor.

Recently, we discussed how different management styles impact teamwork. And, as could’ve been expected, there is no silver-bullet, one-style-fits-all.

The right leadership style to impact teamwork all depends, unsurprisingly, on several factors, including industry, employees and company culture.

This then begs the (titular) question: What leadership style is most effective in a virtual workspace?

While it would be seemingly safe to assume that the former conclusion – one that determines that one-style-does-not-fit-all – would apply to our latter, titular query, it is a question worth weighing carefully.

So here, we delve deeper into a few of the more common leadership styles to see if one can emerge the victor.

Battle Royale: Transactional vs. Situational vs. Transformational Leadership

‘But there are countless leadership styles to compare for this exercise,’ you say. ‘Why only these three?’

Fair question. Because so many leadership styles have some overlapping qualities, we took a three-pronged approach – one rigid, one fluid and one walking the line.

So allow us to introduce today’s fighters.

In ring one, we have Transactional Leadership, weighing in with structure and routine. In ring two, we have Situational Leadership, weighing in with a hybrid, responsive agility. And in ring three, we have Transformational Leadership, weighing in with visionary charisma.


Management Type: Transactional

This leadership style focuses on results within the confines of the organization’s existing structure, measuring success according to that organization’s system of rewards and penalties. These leaders rely on formal authority and routine.

Impact: Organizations are equipped with self-motivated people who work well in a structured, directed environment.

Works Best: Transactional leadership is most successful in a crisis or with projects that require linear, routine and predetermined processes and structures.

Management Type: Situational

This leadership style is essentially a hybrid of authoritative and participative leadership styles. Part of a group of theories known as contingency theories of leadership, situational management establishes a leader’s effectiveness contingent on his or her ability to modify their management behavior to the employees’ level of maturity or sophistication.

Impact: Situational leadership can successfully lead their team based on the understanding that derived the answers to their questions. It is adaptive, reactive and responsive.

Works Best: Small-business managers can benefit from situational leadership in order to handle different tasks, such as when a quick turnaround is needed on a particular project or deliverable.

Management Type: Transformational

This leadership style focuses on change and improvement and collaborates with employees to identify what changes are needed. A transformational leader is often viewed as charismatic and visionary but should be careful to not change things too quickly.

Impact: This style inspires employees with a vision that will help affect change but others who are averse to change are less likely to be engaged.

Works Best: This can be great for team morale and performance – and both come in handy when an organization is in a period of change or evolution.

OOF. This may just be too close to call. Judges?

Judges: The Results Are In

In a not-so-shocking development, we have determined that your culture – which, if you’ve been following along is really your people – should dictate the right leadership style for the results you hope to achieve.

Virtual teams boast unique challenges so in order to combat those challenges to unleash the productivity, creativity and potential of every team member, leaders should elect to strike the perfect, unique-to-your-people balance of leadership styles that best suit their employees.