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Disappearing Bodies in Virtual Leadership?

The Physicality of Leadership: Gesture, Entanglement, Taboo, Possibilities

ISBN: 978-1-78441-290-6, eISBN: 978-1-78441-289-0

Publication date: 24 November 2014


This chapter is about physicality in virtual space, where one generally does not expect to find any physicality according to research and literature. Here, working in virtual space includes interactions and cooperation through the mail, internet, Skype and video-conferencing. The authors use their own experience of collaborating and leading in a virtual project team. Their own personal accounts, impressions and insights reveal a story of organizational cooperation where physicality matters for developing relations and leadership in virtual space. The piece reveals how an aesthetic consciousness of self and others intensifies in virtual communication, especially in relation to the senses of seeing and listening. For instance, the authors describe perception of the self is possible on SKYPE in a way that is not possible in face-to-face meetings (allowing one to realize if one is not dressed ‘properly’). They argue it is important to identify the physical ‘digital self’ and realize the challenges of being fit to operate across time zones, having personal and public boundaries blurred, as well as the heightened sensitivity to imagine what is left out in a virtual relationship. The examples illustrate what kind of sensuous cues become central in virtual communication. The chapter brings forth the need to sensitize to the physicality and to develop skills to perceive and act on it.



De Paoli, D., Ropo, A. and Sauer, E. (2014), "Disappearing Bodies in Virtual Leadership?", The Physicality of Leadership: Gesture, Entanglement, Taboo, Possibilities (Monographs in Leadership and Management, Vol. 6), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 59-79.



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