Exploring leadership within the modern organization: Understanding the dynamics of effective leadership of a virtual, multigenerational workforce

by Schultz, Roger W., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2010, 238 pages; 3427471


This study examined a relatively new but growing set of leadership challenges that the leader of the modern organization faces more frequently due to the dynamics of the workplace. The new challenges involve leading a workforce virtually, in that more frequently workers are physically dispersed away from the leader and fellow workers. The second issue is related to the composition of the workforce, which is more diverse than ever before. Ample literature exists on these topics independently; however, little is available with respect to dealing with virtual leadership and generational diversity in the organization simultaneously. These are critical issues for the leader to be able to deal with effectively. Leadership is not an easy task, by its complex nature. In addition, the success of the organization is dependent on the effectiveness of the leader. The workplace reality is that more organizations are utilizing virtual workers because of the strategic advantage they can provide, but the virtual dimension presents new challenges. The workforce is also becoming more generationally diverse and integrated because of technology and organizational structures that allow for communications among a broader array of personnel, as well as the fact that the generations in the workforce are aging. The different perspectives and values that each generation brings to work also have the potential for conflict that can adversely impact the organization if not addressed. The purpose of this study was to explore and identify effective leadership practices in the context of the virtual worker in a generationally diverse setting. The study used a mixed-method approach, first employing a quantitative survey instrument to identify leadership perceptions and preferences of workers in a variety of industries; the second, qualitative phase utilized interviews to gain a deeper understanding of leadership preferences. The findings demonstrated that the generations had similar leadership experiences and, surprisingly, their preferences were remarkably similar. There were minor deviations and noteworthy points, but overall, the workers preferred aspects of transformational leadership in their leaders. These findings indicate that the medium of work may take primacy over the generational differences when it comes to leadership preferences.

AdviserThomas Bourque
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsEducational leadership; Management; Higher education
Publication Number3427471

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