The Role of Virtual Leadership to Improve Learning Organizations in Industry 4.0

by: Joyada Siallagan


To be able to achieve the goals of organizational success requires leaders who are not only able to carry out management functions such as planning, organizing, directing, and supervising in an organization. But the leader here has a very crucial role, especially in the development of industry 4.0. The development of industry 4.0 itself prioritizes technology based on maximum speed and efficiency. Where traditionally the leader is always there when in the company in controlling and overseeing his subordinates. However, sometimes challenges occur because the leader is not always in place. This is a challenge for the company so that with this virtual leadership it is expected to be an opportunity to improve the progress of the company following industry 4.0 adoption. Because with this virtual leadership becomes a competitive advantage for the progress of the company, especially for the development of learning organizations in the company. That is why this article will discuss the role of Virtual Leadership to realize Learning Organizations in the Industrial Age 4.0. In this paper, we used qualitative methods by reviewing and synthesizing journals related to Virtual Leadership and Learning Organizations. Virtual leadership in learning organizations requires something more. In learning organizations, managers learn to think in terms of ‘control with’ rather than ‘control’ of others. Because the term Industry 4.0 continues to gain strength. The presence of industry 4.0 will make it easier for virtual leaders to improve digital manufacturing drives and create other business profits in the company.

The industrial revolution 4.0 is a phase of the technological revolution that is changing the way people move on the scale, scope, complexity, and transformation of previous life experiences. The basic principle of the industrial revolution 4.0 is to combine machines, workflows and systems by implementing intelligent networks along the production chain and process. It aims to control each other independently. The rapid development of technology will encourage changes in people’s behaviour, and an increase in needs will drive changes and the creation of a new business opportunity that is very promising.

Changes and new business opportunities are driven by the development of internet usage. Where this opportunity is also realized by business people to utilize the internet in the business process. The use of the internet in the process of doing business will continue to experience growth. Ranging from electronic information exchange to business strategy applications, marketing, sales, to customer service. The internet will also support global communication and cooperation between employees, consumers, sellers, and other business partners. Also, the internet allows people from different organizations or locations to work together as a virtual team to develop, produce, market and maintain products or services.

However, it is unfortunate that not all company leaders understand the development of the industrial revolution 4.0. Especially for virtual leadership that should be an added value in increasing company performance effectively and efficiently. e-Leadership or virtual leadership refers to the true leadership of teams in today’s nontraditional virtual business environment. e-Leadership takes place in an environment where work is conducted electronically through information technology. 

Many e-leadership behaviours can be identified and linked to both transformational and transactional leadership styles. Leaders who inspire goals for virtual teams reflect the transformational-style motivational skills. Providing role and expectation clarity for virtual teams reflects the contingent reward factor of transactional-style leadership. e-Leaders working in a distributed project environment need to be excellent communicators and have the ability to overcome the challenges involved with virtual communications. Their goal should be to keep all stakeholders and team members engaged, regardless of location, and effectively communicate to all individuals involved in the project. Challenges in communication can lead to difficulties in task completion and productivity in the project. Communication is essential to the success of projects and closely related to performance and productivity. The best methods are the ones that all team members have equal and immediate access to and are trained on, and are effective for everyone [1]. 

Leading Virtual Project Teams addresses the challenges that today’s virtual project management environment poses to traditional methods of leadership and communication. Leadership for successful virtual team management is different from traditional, collocated project team management. Being familiar with appropriate e-leadership styles for virtual project teams and the transition toward new leadership styles, communication techniques for virtual project teams, and e-leadership competencies is an important part of managing projects and human resources in successful organizations today. By recognizing how virtual teams are different from traditional teams, those managing virtual projects may be able to offer benefits to the organization by providing positive, successful leadership and exceptional communications resulting in better project deliverables and products. To overcome the leadership and organizational identity crisis now subsuming many organizations, original ideas about how best to nurture the global workforce need to come to light as soon as possible [2].

Unlike in traditional environments, e-leaders can not communicate with their team members through face-to-face interactions. Instead, diverse ICTs have become the conveyance during virtual collaborations. However, ICTs have their limitations and may not be able to transfer the same rich social, emotional, and non-verbal information present in traditional face-to-face settings.

With virtual leadership, challenges with visibility and transparency as to what the team members are doing and when it is being done must be addressed. Maintaining respect, promoting the project vision, setting goals, and enabling team member accountability for a geographically dispersed group can become major challenges to the project manager who lacks e-leadership competencies. The inventory of challenges continues with technological challenges, such as the expense of equipment, support, and infrastructure necessary for virtual communications and Internet and connectivity challenges.

The main objective of industry 4.0 is the distribution of goods and needs. Industry 4.0 enables data collection of community needs in real-time and sends the data to producers. Producing, producers can produce the right amount as needed. Of course, economically, this can be done price stability. In business, this can be an expanded market. Product tracking and the transition will increasingly lead to new services. This is related to the protection of Industry 4.0 integrating producers with supply lines without geographical boundaries. So this is a competitive advantage that can be used as a resource for virtual leadership.

Leadership is the only way by which an organization can turn into a learning organization. The traditional views of leaders who set goals, make decisions and direct troops reflect individualistic views. Virtual leadership in learning organizations requires something more. In learning organizations, managers learn to think in terms of ‘control with’ rather than ‘control’ of others. Because the term Industry 4.0 creates opportunities to continue to get new strength. The presence of industry 4.0 will make it easier for virtual leaders to improve digital manufacturing drives and create profits. Benefits include fewer costs in the need to move employees, reduce real estate costs, increase team skills, work around the clock due to different time zones, cheaper cross-functional interactions, increase customer service, and eliminate travel and physical office expenses and the list of benefits continues to grow.

With virtual leadership, challenges with visibility and transparency about what team members do and when to do must be overcome. Maintaining respect, promoting project vision, setting goals, and enabling team members to account for geographically dispersed groups can be a major challenge for project managers who do not have e-leadership competencies. Inventory challenges continue with technological challenges, such as the cost of equipment, support, and infrastructure needed for virtual communication and the Internet and connectivity challenges. Training and development of future leaders, specifically those leaders who lead in virtual settings, need to more specifically address the unique challenges of e-leadership and must incorporate training design tools that actively reflect these challenges.

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