Global competition and advances in technology are leading to the explosion of virtual teams in order to execute business strategies. Adoption of permanent virtual team structures enables companies access to best talent with rich cultural diversity as a form of competitive advantage. This new way of working brings forth challenges regarding leadership. The main purpose of this research was to identify perceptions on the leadership preferences and important factors enabling or inhibiting the effective leadership to manage virtual teams. Two types of data collection methodologies were used, namely, qualitative and quantitative in two phases. The first phase was to gain in-depth knowledge on the themes and constructs to be used to develop the questionnaire. The survey for the second phase took the form of self-administered quantitative questionnaires. In total 59 responses were received; 13 virtual managers, 23 virtual subordinates and 23 respondents who were both virtual managers and virtual subordinates. The outcome revealed that soft leadership skills are core to the success of virtual teams. There was a consistent view on findings between managers, subordinates and respondents who are both managers and subordinates. By understanding the relative importance of key skills, enablers and inhibitors, virtual managers will be able to demonstrate the different leadership qualities and practices required to effectively lead virtual teams. The key finding of the study was that at the crux of effective leadership in virtual teams is the ability for managers to display socio-emotional capabilities.