Trainings designed for the effective usage of AIT
The present research found that the positive effects of transformational leadership behavior can be enhanced by frequent interaction between leader and followers. Executing transformational behavior using AIT is therefore auspicious and communication trainings need to be conducted. Transformational and transactional leaders are known to be good communicators (Neufeld et al., 2010), yet results revealed that, e.g., videoconferencing and chat media are not yet used to their full potential. Recently conducted research testifies that leaders in a distance work environment require technology- and media competence to make this collaboration effective (Hertel, 2013; Raabe & Schmitz, 2004). How leadership is perceived also depends on the qualification to send messages (Yoo & Alavi, 2004) and how frequently communication is pursued (Carte et al., 2006). In particular, informal exchange is often executed during coffee or lunch breaks. As these are not likely to happen frequently in distance work environments there is a need to let followers enjoy informal conversations (Caulat, 2006). For instance, this could be done by planning chat time before, during and/or after a virtual meeting in order to get to know the person on the other side or by planning regular virtual coffee chats. Cummings (2008) suggests that, in addition to scheduled virtual meetings, a leader should use informal face-to-face meetings, phone calls or e-mails as a medium for better collaboration, since these facilitate communication and can have a positive impact on performance of the remotely located followers. Rules of Netiquette should be in place at the organizational level, defining how co-workers interact with each other and the leader (Hertel et al., 2005).
Teams are formed according to their competences rather than their local availability (Weisband, 2008) and leaders are assigned who sometimes have little experience with virtual work. Often support from the organization is lacking as many firms do not yet recognize the value of leading at a distance, ignore the challenges of com?munication using AIT, and fail to provide psychological assistance (Caulat, 2006). This should be taken into account when designing trainings as communication is a basic element of collaboration that can be vital in a distant leader-follower relationship.