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#WFH: What Works When Power & Position Don’t?

Power formerly came from hierarchy, position and compensation. The virtual workplace reduces barriers to entry and achievement. Organizational rituals like F2F meetings and sitting in the “power positions” at the heads of the table or right across from the boss are archaic and outdated in the virtual environment. The traditional ways of relating through control, influence and intimidation just don’t work here. The job descriptions of the past also don’t work, and that makes organizations very nervous. In the virtual environment, there are no corner offices, executive restrooms or preferred parking spaces.

Many leadership, innovation and change management theories are obsolete in this new era. These models are derived from paradigms of the past. Without the benefits of charisma and immediate authority, it becomes less about structure and progression and more about availability and opportunity.
Working relationships tend to take on a new meaning when there are no traditional delineators of power. Authentic productivity and contributions are what count. The traditional chain of command and authority is being challenged. Working in the virtual world tests more than giving up collaboration at the water cooler. It challenges organizations to replace power based on charisma and authority with power based on expertise and contribution. We are changing not only how we manage but what we manage. We used to manage people, now we man-age results.

Virtual work environments shine a light on the competing values of yesterday and today. Many organizations are reluctant to change. They are con-tent with power networks and visibility that can demand recognition and reward. Traditional notions of executive power and hierarchy are part of West-ern culture. Most of what is written and researched about virtual teams is based on antiquated team theory from the last century. This is revisited and updated in a flawed attempt to reflect the virtual environment.

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