Proximity to the flagpole: Effective leadership in geographically dispersed organizations

By Scott M. Kieffer

Temasys Communications' Chief Technology Officer Alexandre Gouaillard runs a demonstration of WebRTC

The workplace is changing rapidly, and more and more leaders in government and private industry are required to lead those who are geographically separated. Globalization, economic shifts from manufacturing to information, the need to be closer to customers, and improved technological capabilities have increased the geographic dispersion of many organizations. While these organizations offer many exciting opportunities, they also bring new leadership challenges that are amplified because of the separation between leaders and followers. Although much has been researched and written on leadership in general, relatively little has been focused on the unique leadership challenges and opportunities presented in geographically separated environments. Furthermore, most leaders are not given the right tools and training to overcome the challenges or take advantage of the opportunities when leading in these unique settings.

A survey of leaders within a geographically dispersed military organization confirmed there are distinct differences in how remote and local leaders operate, and most leadership tasks related to leading those who are remote are more difficult than with those who are co-located. The tasks most difficult for remote leaders are related to communicating, mentoring and building personal relationships, fostering teamwork and group identity, and measuring performance. To be effective, leaders must be aware of the challenges they face when leading from afar and be deliberate in their engagement.

Although there are unique leadership challenges in geographically dispersed environments, most current leadership literature and training is developed on work in face-to-face settings. Leading geographically dispersed organizations is not a new concept, but technological advances over the last decade have provided leaders with greater ability to be more influential and involved with distant teams than ever before. This advancement has given leaders not only the opportunity to be successful in a moment of time but ensures continued success by enhancing the way they build dispersed organizations and grow future leaders from afar.


  • Proximity to the flagpole: Effective Leadership in geographically dispersed organizations


  • Scott M. Kieffer

Image Source: © Edgar Su / Reuters

From:: Proximity to the flagpole: Effective leadership in geographically dispersed organizations

What must corporate directors do? Maximizing shareholder value versus creating value through team production

By Margaret M. Blair

The outside of the New York Stock Exchange is seen in New York May 13, 2011. NYSE shareholders are scheduled to vote on the Deutsche Boerse deal on July 7 under a timeline that NYSE says is designed to comply with German law on mergers and acquisitions. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

In our latest 21st Century Capitalism initiative paper, “What must corporate directors do? Maximizing shareholder value versus creating value through team production,” author Margaret M. Blair explores how the share value maximization norm (or the “short-termism” malady) came to dominate, why it is wrong, and why the “team production” approach provides a better basis for governing corporations over the long term.

Blair reviews the legal and economic theories behind the share-value maximization norm, and then lays out a theory of corporate law building on the economics of team production. Blair demonstrates how the team production theory recognizes that creating wealth for society as a whole requires recognizing the importance of all of the participants in a corporate enterprise, and making sure that all share in the expanding pie so that they continue to collaborate to create wealth.

Arguing that the corporate form itself helps solve the team production problem, Blair details five features which distinguish corporations from other organizational forms:

  • Legal personality
  • Limited liability
  • Transferable shares
  • Management under a Board of Directors
  • Indefinite existence
  • Blair concludes that these five characteristics are all problematic from a principal-agent point of view where shareholders are principals. However, the team production theory makes sense out of these arrangements. This theory provides a rationale for the role of corporate directors consistent with the role that boards of directors historically understood themselves to play: balancing competing interests so the whole organization stays productive.


    • Download the paper


    • Margaret M. Blair

    From:: What must corporate directors do? Maximizing shareholder value versus creating value through team production

    Quindell sale marks end of bizarre corporate drama

    The curtain has fallen on Quindell, one of the most bizarre corporate dramas to play out on London’s junior stock market.

    The controversial insurance claims company — whose dreams of joining the FTSE 100 were shattered by short sellers — last week sold most of its business to Australian law firm Slater & Gordon for £637m.

    The sale marked the end of a saga that has unfolded in the past year as the company’s value collapsed following a string of scandals and allegations about its profitability and corporate governance.