Leading Virtually

Posted: 2 Feb 2023

See all articles by Bradford S. Bell

Bradford S. Bell

Cornell University

Kristie L. McAlpine

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Rutgers University

N. Sharon Hill

George Washington University

Date Written: January 2023


The growth in virtual work is reshaping how leaders interface with their followers: Face-to-face interactions are increasingly being supplanted by virtual exchanges. To advance understanding of the implications of leading in this changing environment, we apply functional leadership theory to synthesize the findings of the virtual leadership research that has been conducted across different leadership perspectives and levels of analysis. We identify four traditional leadership functions that empirical research suggests have a stronger effect on follower need satisfaction in virtual settings and highlight a new function—facilitate the use of technology—as particularly germane to virtual leadership. Our review reveals several promising future research directions, including the need to examine the effects of leadership along the full spectrum of virtuality and to consider the unique challenges that leaders may encounter in hybrid work environments. We also outline important practical implications for organizations, leaders, and their followers.

Suggested Citation

Bell, Bradford S. and McAlpine, Kristie L. and Hill, N. Sharon, Leading Virtually (January 2023). Annual Review of Organizational Psychology & Organizational Behavior, Vol. 10, Issue 1, pp. 339-362, 2023, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4337239 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-orgpsych-120920-050115

Bradford S. Bell (Contact Author)

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Kristie L. McAlpine

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Rutgers University ( email )

311 Armitage Hall
N. 5th Street, room 313
Camden, NJ 08102
United States

N. Sharon Hill

George Washington University

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