Skip to main content

Remote Leadership, Communication Effectiveness and Leader Performance

Abstract

As remote work arrangements have gained in popularity, workforce dispersion has become increasingly widespread. Little research to date has examined how physical distance influences leader–follower communication effectiveness or leader performance. Building on top of transformational leadership theory, this paper explores how perceived leader performance is influenced by leadership style, physical distance, and communication effectiveness between leaders and followers. A survey of 138 followers, reporting to a total of 41 leaders, was conducted and data were analyzed at the individual follower-level using the Partial Least Squares (PLS) technique. Our model explained 45% of the variance in communication effectiveness and 67% of the variance in perceived leader performance. Consistent with past empirical findings, transformational leadership was associated more strongly with perceived leader performance than transactional contingent reward leadership. Communication effectiveness was also a strong predictor of leader performance, and furthermore acted as a mediator of leadership behavior on performance. Surprisingly, distance had no influence on either communication effectiveness or perceived leader performance. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • Antonakis J, Atwater L (2002) Leader distance: a review and proposed theory. Leadersh Q 13: 673–704. doi:10.1016/S1048-9843(02)00155-8

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Avolio BJ (1999) Full leadership development: building the vital forces in organizations. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA

    Google Scholar 

  • Avolio BJ, Kahai SS (2003) Adding the “e” to leadership: how it may impact your leadership. Organ Dyn 31(4): 325. doi:10.1016/S0090–2616(02)00133-X

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Avolio BJ, Waldman DA, Yammarino FJ (1991) Leading in the 1990s: the Four I’s of transformational leadership. J Eur Ind Train 15(4):9–16. doi:10.1108/03090599110143366

    Google Scholar 

  • Avolio BJ, Kahai SS, Dodge G (2000) E-leadership and its implications for theory, research and practice. Leadersh Q 11(4): 615–670. doi:10.1016/S1048-9843(00)00062-X

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Awamleh R, Gardner WL (1999) Perceptions of leader charisma and effectiveness: the effects of vision content, delivery, and organizational performance. Leadersh Q 10(3): 345–373. doi:10.1016/S1048-9843(99)00022-3

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bagozzi RP, Yi Y (1990) Assessing method variance in multitrait-multimethod matrices: the case of self-reported affect and perceptions at work. J Appl Psychol 75:547–560. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.75.5.547

    Google Scholar 

  • Barclay D, Higgins C, Thompson R (1995) The Partial Least Squares (PLS) approach to causal modeling, personal computer adoption and use as an illustration. Technol Stud 2(2): 285–309

    Google Scholar 

  • Barge JK (1994) Leadership: communication skills for organizations and groups. St. Martin’s Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Barling J, Weber T, Kelloway EK (1996) Effects of transformational leadership training on attitudinal and financial outcomes: a field experiment. J Appl Psychol 81(6):827–832. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.81.6.827

    Google Scholar 

  • Bass BM (1985) Leadership and performance beyond expectations. Free Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Bass BM (1990a) Bass & Stogdill’s handbook of leadership: theory, research, and managerial applications. Free Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Bass BM (1990) From transactional to transformational leadership: learning to share the vision. Organ Dyn 18(3): 19–31. doi:10.1016/0090-2616(90)90061-S

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bass B (1998) Transformational leadership: industrial, military, and educational impact. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ

    Google Scholar 

  • Bass BM, Avolio BJ (1990) Manual for the multifactor leadership questionnaire. Consulting Psychologist Press, Palo Alto, CA

    Google Scholar 

  • Baum JR, Locke EA, Kirkpatrick SA (1998) A longitudinal study of the relation of vision and vision communication to venture growth in entrepreneurial firms. J Appl Psychol 83(1):43–54. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.83.1.43

    Google Scholar 

  • Bennis W, Nanus B (1985) Leaders: the strategies for taking charge. Harper & Row, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Boerner S, Eisenbeiss SA, Griesser D (2007) Follower behavior and organizational performance: the impact of transformational leaders. J Leadersh Organ Stud 13(3):15–27. doi:10.1177/10717919070130030201

    Google Scholar 

  • Burns JM (1978) Leadership. Free Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Bycio P, Hackett RD, Allen JS (1995) Further assessments of Bass’s (1985) conceptualization of transactional and transformational leadership. J Appl Psychol 80(4):468–478. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.80.4.468

    Google Scholar 

  • Bélanger F, Collins RW, Cheney PH (2001) Technology requirements and work group communications for telecommuters. Inf Syst Res 12(2):155–176. doi:10.1287/isre.12.2.155.9695

    Google Scholar 

  • Carmines EG, Zeller RA (eds) (1979) Reliability and validity assessment. Sage, Beverly Hills, CA

    Google Scholar 

  • Chidambaram L, Jones B (1993) Impact of communication medium and computer support on group perceptions and performance: a comparison of face-to-face and dispersed meetings. MIS Q 17(4):465. doi:10.2307/249588

    Google Scholar 

  • Chin WW (1998) The partial least squares approach for structural equation modelling. In: Marcoulides GA (Ed) Modern methods for business research. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ

  • Conger JA (1991) Inspiring others: the language of leadership. The Executive 5(1): 31

    Google Scholar 

  • Conger JA, Kanungo RN (1987) Toward a behavioral theory of charismatic leadership in organizational settings. Acad Manag Rev 12(4):637–647. doi:10.2307/258069

    Google Scholar 

  • Conger JA, Kanungo RN (1988) Charismatic leadership: the elusive factor in organizational effectiveness. Jossey Bass Publishers, San Francisco

    Google Scholar 

  • Conger JA, Kanungo RN (1998) Charismatic leadership in organizations. Sage, Thousands Oaks, CA

    Google Scholar 

  • Curphy GJ (1992) An empirical investigation of the effects of transformational and transactional leadership on organizational climate, attrition, and performance. In: Clark KE, Clark MB, Campbell DR (eds) Impact of leadership. Center for Creative Leadership, Greensboro, NC, pp 177–188

  • Daft RL, Lengel RH (1986) Organizational information requirements, media richness and structural design. Manag Sci 32(5): 554–571

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Davidow WH, Malone MS (1992) The virtual corporation: structuring and revitalizing the corporation for the 21st century. HarperBusiness, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Den Hartog DN, Verburg RM (1997) Charisma and rhetoric: communicative techniques of international business leaders. Leadersh Q 8: 355–391. doi:10.1016/S1048-9843(97)90020-5

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dillman DA (2000) Mail and internet surveys: the tailored design method. Wiley, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Dumdum UR, Lowe KB, Avolio BJ (2002) A meta-analysis of transformational and transactional leadership correlates of effectiveness and satisfaction: an update and extension. In: Avolio BJ, Yammarino FJ (eds) Transformational and charismatic leadership: the road ahead. JAI Press, Amsterdam, pp 35–66

  • Duxbury LE, Neufeld DJ (1999) An empirical evaluation of the impacts of telecommuting on intra-organizational communication. J Eng Technol Manag 16(1): 1–28. doi:10.1016/S0923-4748(98)00026-5

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dvir T, Eden D, Avolio BJ, Shamir B (2002) Impact of transformational leadership on follower development and performance: a field experiment. Acad Manag J 45:735–744. doi:10.2307/3069307

    Google Scholar 

  • Ferris GR, Judge TA, Rowland KM, Fitzgibbons DE (1994) Subordinate influence and the performance evaluation process: test of a model. Organ Behav Hum Decis Process 58:101–135. doi:10.1006/obhd.1994.1030

  • Flauto FJ (1999) Walking the talk: the relationship between leadership and communication competence. J Leadersh Stud 6(1/2):86–96. doi:10.1177/107179199900600106

    Google Scholar 

  • Fornell C, Larcker D (1981) Evaluating structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error. J Mark Res 18:39–50. doi:10.2307/3151312

    Google Scholar 

  • Fortune Magazine (2006) 100 best companies to work for

  • Gainey TW, Kelley DE, Hill JA (1999) Telecommuting’s impact on corporate culture and individual workers: examining the effect of employee isolation. S.A.M. Adv Manag J 64(4): 4–10

    Google Scholar 

  • Geyer ALJ, Steyrer JM (1998) Transformational leadership and objective performance in banks. Appl Psychol 47(3): 397–420

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gardner MJ, Martinko MJ (1988) Impression management: an observational study linking audience characteristics with verbal self-presentations. Acad Manag J 31:42–65. doi:10.2307/256497

    Google Scholar 

  • Hartog DND, Verburg RM (1997) Charisma and rhetoric: communicative techniques of international business leaders. Leadersh Q 8(4): 355–391. doi:10.1016/S1048-9843(97)90020–5

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hater JJ, Bass BM (1988) Superiors’ evaluations and subordinates’ perceptions of transformational and transactional leadership. J Appl Psychol 73(4):695–702. doi:10.1037/0021–9010.73.4.695

    Google Scholar 

  • Hedberg B (1997) Virtual organizations and beyond. Wiley, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Hoegl M, Gemuenden H (2001) Teamwork quality and the success of innovative projects: a theoretical concept and empirical evidence. Organ Sci 12(4):433–449. doi:10.1287/orsc.12.4.435.10635

  • House RJ, Shamir B (1993) Toward the integration of transformational, charismatic, and visionary theories. In: Chemers MM, Ayman R (eds) Leadership theory and research: perspectives and directions. Academic Press, Inc, San Diego, pp 81–107

  • House RJ, Spangler WD, Woyke J (1991) Personality and charisma in the U.S. Presidency: a psychological theory of leader effectiveness. Adm Sci Q 36:364–397. doi:10.2307/2393201

    Google Scholar 

  • Howell JM, Avolio BJ (1993) Transformational leadership, transactional leadership, locus of control, and support for innovation: key predictors of consolidated-business-unit performance. J Appl Psychol 78(6):891–902. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.78.6.891

  • Howell JM, Frost PJ (1989) A laboratory study of charismatic leadership. Organ Behav Hum Decis Process 43(2): 243–269. doi:10.1016/0749-5978(89)90052-6

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Howell JM, Neufeld D, Avolio BJ (2005) Examining the relationship of leadership and physical distance with business unit performance. Leadersh Q 16(2):273. doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2005.01.004

    Google Scholar 

  • Howell HM, Hall-Merenda KE (1999) The ties that bind: the impacts of leader-member exchange, transformational and transactional leadership, and distance on predicting performance. J Appl Psychol 84(5):680–694. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.84.5.680

  • Hulland JS (1999) Use of partial least squares (PLS) in strategic management research: a review of four studies. J Strateg Manag 20: 194–204

    Google Scholar 

  • Indik BP, Georgopoulous BS, Seashore SE (1961) Superior-subordinate relationships and performance. Person Psychol 14:357–374. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6570.1961.tb01242.x

    Google Scholar 

  • Intel Corporation (2004) eWorkforce: enabling the global vision

  • Jain HC (1973) Supervisory communication and performance in urban hospitals. J Commun 23:103–117. doi:10.1111/j.1460-2466.1973.tb00935.x

    Google Scholar 

  • Jaussi KS, Dionne SD (2003) Leading for creativity: the role of unconventional leader behavior. Leadersh Q 14(4): 475. doi:10.1016/S1048-9843(03)00048-1

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jones C (2005) Teleworking: the quiet revolution (2005 update). Gartner Group, Stamford, CT

    Google Scholar 

  • Jöreskog KG, Wold H (1982) The ML and PLS techniques for modeling with latent variables: historical and comparative aspects. In: Jöreskog KG, Wold H (eds) Systems under indirect observation: causality, structure, prediction. North Holland, Amsterdam, pp 263–270

  • Judge TA, Ferris GR (1993) Social context of performance evaluation decisions. Acad Manag J 36:80–105. doi:10.2307/256513

    Google Scholar 

  • Judge TA, Piccolo RF (2004) Transformational and transactional leadership: a meta-analytic test of their relative validity. J Appl Psychol 89:755–768. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.89.5.755

    Google Scholar 

  • Jung D, Avolio BJ (2000) Opening the black box: an experimental investigation of the mediating effects of trust and value congruence on transformational and transactional leadership. J Organ Behav 21:949–964. doi:10.1002/1099-1379(200012)21:8<949::AID-JOB64>3.0.CO;2-F

    Google Scholar 

  • Kayworth TR, Leidner DE (2001) Leadership effectiveness in global virtual teams. J Manag Inf Syst 18(3): 7

    Google Scholar 

  • Keller RT (1992) Transformational leadership and the performance of research and development project groups. J Manag 18(3):489–501. doi:10.1177/014920639201800304

    Google Scholar 

  • Kelloway EK, Barling J, Kelley E, Comtois J, Gatien B (2003) Remote transformational leadership. Leadersh Organ Dev J 24(3):163. doi:10.1108/01437730310469589

    Google Scholar 

  • Kerr S, Jermier JM (1978) Substitutes for leadership: their meaning and measurement. Organ Behav Hum Perform 22: 375–403. doi:10.1016/0030-5073(78)90023-5

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kirkpatrick SA, Locke EA (1996) Direct and indirect effects of three core charismatic leadership components on performance and attitudes. J Appl Psychol 81(1):36–51. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.81.1.36

    Google Scholar 

  • Klauss R, Bass BM (1982) Interpersonal communication in organizations. Academic Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Klimoski RJ, Hayes NJ (1980) Leader behavior and subordinate motivation. Pers Psychol 65: 454–466

    Google Scholar 

  • Liang H, Saraf N, Hu Q, Xue Y (2007) Assimilation of enterprise systems: the effect of institutional pressures and the mediating role of top management. MIS Q 31(1)

  • Locke EA, Kirkpatrick SA, Wheeler JK, Schneider J, Niles K, Goldstein H, Welsh K, Chah DO (1991) The essence of leadership. Lexington Books, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Lohmöller J (1984) LVPLS Program Manual: latent variables path analysis with partial least-squares estimation. Zentralarchiv für empirische Sozialforschung, Köln

  • Lowe KB, Kroeck KG, Sivasubramaniam N (1996) Effectiveness correlates of transformation and transactional leadership: a meta-analytic review of the MLQ literature. Leadersh Q 7(3): 385–425. doi:10.1016/S1048-9843(96)90027-2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McFillen JM, New JR (1979) Situational determinants of supervisor attributions and behavior. Acad Manag J 22:793–809. doi:10.2307/255815

    Google Scholar 

  • Mumford MD, Zaccaro SJ, Harding FD, Jacobs TO, Fleishman EA (2000) Leadership skills for a changing world: solving complex social problems. Leadersh Q 11: 11–35. doi:10.1016/S1048-9843(99)00041-7

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Neufeld D, Fang Y (2005) Individual, social and situational determinants of telecommuter productivity. Inf Manag 42(7):1037. doi:10.1016/j.im.2004.12.001

    Google Scholar 

  • Nunnally J (1978) Psychometric theory. McGraw-Hill, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Penley LE, Hawkins B (1985) Studying interpersonal communication in organizations: a leadership application. Acad Manag J 28(2):309–328. doi:10.2307/256203

    Google Scholar 

  • Podsakoff PM, Todor WD, Skov R (1982) Effect of leader contingent and non-contingent reward and punishment behaviors on subordinate performance and satisfaction. Acad Manag J 25:810–821. doi:10.2307/256100

    Google Scholar 

  • Podsakoff PM, Todor WD, Groner RA, Huber VL (1984) Situational moderators of leader reward and punishment behaviors: fact or fiction. Organ Behav Hum Perform 34: 21–63. doi:10.1016/0030-5073(84)90036-9

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Podsakoff PM, Mackenzie SB, Lee JY, Podsakoff NP (2003) Common method biases in behavioral research: a critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. J Appl Psychol 88:879–903. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.88.5.879

    Google Scholar 

  • Pondy L (1978) Leadership as a language game. In: Mccall MWJ, Lombardo MM(eds) Leadership: where else can we go?. Duke University Press, Durham, NC, pp 87–99

    Google Scholar 

  • Powell A, Piccoli G, Ives B (2004) Virtual teams: a review of the current literature and directions for future research. Database Adv Inf Sys 35(1): 6–33

    Google Scholar 

  • Qureshi S, Liu M, Vogel D (2006) The effects of electronic collaboration in distributed project management. Group Decis Negot 15: 55–75

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rao A, Schmidt SM, Murray LH (1995) Upward impression management: goals, influence strategies, and consequences. Hum Relat 48:147–167. doi:10.1177/001872679504800203

    Google Scholar 

  • Rice R (1993) Media appropriateness: using social presence theory to compare traditional and new organizational media. Hum Commun Res 19(4):451–484. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2958.1993.tb00309.x

  • Ruiz Y, Walling A (2005) Home-based working using communication technologies. Labour Market Rev 113(10): 417–426

    Google Scholar 

  • Senge PM (1990) The fifth discipline: the art and practice of the learning organization. Doubleday, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Shamir B (1995) Social distance and charisma: theoretical notes and an exploratory study. Leadersh Q 6(1): 19–47. doi:10.1016/1048-9843(95)90003-9

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Shamir B, Arthur MB, House RJ (1994) The rhetoric of charismatic leadership: a theoretical extension, a case study, and implications for research. Leadersh Q 5(1): 25–42. doi:10.1016/1048-9843(94)90004-3

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Shepherd C, Weschler IR (1955) The relation between three interpersonal variables and communication effectiveness: a pilot study. Sociometry 18:103–110. doi:10.2307/2785995

    Google Scholar 

  • Sobel ME (1982) Asymptotic intervals for indirect effects in structural equations models. In: Leinhart S(eds) Sociological methodology. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, pp 290–312

    Google Scholar 

  • Staples SD, Hulland JS, Higgins CA (1999) A self-efficacy theory explanation for the management of remote workers in virtual organizations. Organ Sci 10(6): 758–776

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Statistics Canada (2001) Workplace and employment survey compendium. Ministry of Industry

  • Streufert S (1965) Communicator importance and interpersonal attitudes toward conforming and deviant group members. J Pers Soc Psychol 2:242–246. doi:10.1037/h0022389

    Google Scholar 

  • Sudan SK, Ryan S, Drake SD, Sandler M, Boggs R, Giusto R (2007) Worldwide mobile worker population 2007–2011, Forecast. 37

  • Sundstrom E (1986) Work places: the psychology of the physical environment in offices and factories. Cambridge University Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Uhl-Bien M, Graen GB (1998) Individual self-management: analysis of professionals’ self-managing activities in functional and cross-functional work teams. Acad Manag J 41(3):340–350. doi:10.2307/256912

    Google Scholar 

  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2002) Work at home in 2001. Division of Labor Force Statistics

  • Waldman DA, Ramirez GG, House RJ, Puranam P (2001) Does leadership matter? CEO leadership attributes and profitability under conditions of perceived environmental uncertainty. Acad Manag J 44(1):134–143. doi:10.2307/3069341

    Google Scholar 

  • Watson-Fritz MB, Sridhar N, Hyeun-Suk R (1998) Communication and coordination in the virtual office. J Manag Inf Syst 14(4): 7–28

    Google Scholar 

  • Westley F, Mintzberg H (1991) Visionary leadership and strategic management. In: Henry J, Walker D(eds) Managing innovation. Sage, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Wilcox R (1998) How many discoveries have been lost by ignoring modern statistical methods. Am Psychol 53: 300–314. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.53.3.300

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wixom BH, Todd P (2005) A theoretical integration of user satisfaction and technology acceptance. Inf Syst Res 16(1): 85–102. doi:10.1287/isre.1050.0042

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wold H (1982) Systems under indirect observation using PLS. In: Fornell C (ed) A second generation of multivariate analysis. Praeger, New York pp 325–347

    Google Scholar 

  • Yammarino FJ (1994) Indirect leadership: transformational leadership at a distance. In: Bass BM, Avolio BJ (eds) Improving organizational effectiveness through transformational leadership. Sage, Thousand Oaks, pp 26–47

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Derrick J. Neufeld.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Neufeld, D.J., Wan, Z. & Fang, Y. Remote Leadership, Communication Effectiveness and Leader Performance. Group Decis Negot 19, 227–246 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10726-008-9142-x

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10726-008-9142-x

Keywords

  • Transformational leadership
  • Physical distance
  • Communication effectiveness
  • Leadership performance
  • Survey research
  • Mediation
  • Partial Least Squares