One of the most difficult parts of beginning a team project is the first few days. There is a "feeling out" period between the members, where no one is willing to risk offending the others on the team. This is especially true in teams where there is no clearly defined leadership. No one wants to step forward to become the "Taskmaster" of the group. This is probably most likely due to our innate desire to be liked by others. Unfortunately in today's society, the one in charge is the easy one for the masses to rally against. This leads to the hesitancy for someone to take charge.
However, in a virtual team, it is even more important for a clear leader to be assigned or to emerge. When you cannot see each other face to face, there needs to be some clear direction right from the start to focus the group towards the task at hand.
Otherwise you begin to see what our team is currently experiencing, a good deal of dancing around the task, with suggestions put out there for consensus vote. However, without a clear leader who will gather the votes and codify them into the task?When a small team with unfamiliar members begins to form, it is almost inevitable that someone comes up with the idea of "leadership by consensus." This may seems feasible because of the small numbers; however leadership by consensus does not work when there is a task and a deadline to meet, especially when the team members are constantly seeking the approval of each other. A clear leader must be assigned in order to ensure each individual is accountable to the team and their assignments.
Our background reading gave us several stages to a problem solving process for virtual teams, along with several...