“I had to learn to let go.” That is how Jeremy Bouchard describes one of the major personal transformations he had to experience to become a better manager of virtual projects. What Bouchard is referring to is the sharing of tasking, problem-solving, and decision-making power between the project manager and team members who are geographically and organizationally distributed. However, this is only half of what we call the duality of the virtual project manager's role. The other half is the need to provide strong centralized leadership, particularly during the forming and storming stages of team development (as described in Chapter 4). This centralized/decentralized duality of the project manager's role is in effect on all projects, traditional and virtual, but it is amplified considerably on virtual projects due to the lack of face-to-face interaction and social presence caused by geographic distribution of the project team. Also, the duality of the role brings to light many of the challenges associated with managing a virtual project that were discussed in Chapter 1.

As Jeremy Bouchard experienced directly, one of the most challenging and confusing aspects of managing a virtual project is knowing when to pull the reins in to assert more centralized and direct control and when to let the reins loose to allow more empowerment of the team. That challenge is the subject of this chapter.

Centralize First

As explained in Chapter 1, one of ...

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