We don’t work together anymore–at least not all in the same place at the same time.  Dispersed teams have become a new normal and leaders need to adjust.  Intersecting social identity theory and leadership research, a study highlighted the importance of inspirational leaders who, by developing socialized relationships with team members, fostered attitudes that are critical for team effectiveness (Joshi, Lazarova, & Liao, 2009). Inspirational leadership emerged as a significant predictor of team members’ trust in each other and their commitment to the team. The positive relationship between inspirational leadership and individuals’ commitment to the team and team member trust was stronger in teams that were geographically more dispersed.  It appears, therefore, that inspirational leaders are especially important for highly dispersed teams. Finally, member trust and commitment, not surprisingly, led to higher team performance.

Inspirational leaders in this study demonstrated frequent use of the following six behaviors:

  1. Makes everyone on the team enthusiastic about the team’s assignments.
  2. Encourages every team member to express their ideas and opinions.
  3. Communicates a clear, consistent, purposeful team mission.
  4. Inspires others by living the team values and demonstrating a commitment to both the team mission and members.
  5. Excites the team with their vision and with what the team can accomplish by working together.
  6. Convinces team members that they can overcome anything if they work together.


Joshi, A., Lazarova, M. B., & Liao, H. (2009). Getting Everyone on Board: The Role of Inspirational Leadership in Geographically Dispersed Teams. Organization Science20(1), 240–252.