How to Best Lead a Multicultural or International Team

In this blog post, we’re going to address this issue and focus on how best to lead a multicultural or international team.

Hillary Walker

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Leading a multicultural or international team is a leadership challenge, but not necessarily a management challenge. And it does require you to be an expert in the specific issues that multicultural or international leaders face. In this blog post, we’re going to address this issue and focus on how best to lead a multicultural or international team.

What is the Problem?

Multicultural or international leadership is most frequently associated with working with cross-cultural (or cross-national) teams. And it doesn’t matter if they’re all in the same country or work from different continents and have cheap international calls to Nigeria regularly. A multicultural team may be based in the same country but comprise people of different nationalities and cultures. And this is actually where the issue starts. It can sometimes be difficult to communicate and lead people with a different mindset or life values.

What are some of the challenges that multicultural or international leaders face? We have collected some of them for you. This list is by no means complete, but hopefully, it provides a good understanding of potential challenges that you may be faced with:

  • Communicating across national borders

  • Cultural differences that lead to misunderstanding

  • Having to manage differences that arise between cultures in a way that works best for all team members

  • Understanding the different cultures, and having the right knowledge of each one

  • Dealing with the differences between cultural values

  • Managing differences between cultures that may be viewed as conflicting

  • Earning the respect and trust of team members, even when they belong to a different culture

  • Developing teams that are cohesive and focused on their work

Teams may be from any combination of countries, from three to as many as fifteen. The more representatives from different countries there are in a team, the more challenging it is to manage them. Some of these teams may be made up of team members from a few specific countries (often two or three); others might be more ethnically diverse. Team leaders may work primarily with teams composed of a few specific nationalities, or they may work with teams made up of members from a range of different nationalities. The situations may vary.

Read also: Soft Skills: These Are The Ones That Companies Are Looking For The Most

What is the Solution?

First, have a thorough knowledge of the different cultures within that team. This is key to addressing the challenges listed above, but will also help you to build trust with team members from different cultures. Having a deep knowledge of the cultures in your team can help you communicate more effectively, as well as provide insights into what differences in values and customs may arise. We recommend having regular 1:1 meetings with each member of your team. Thus, you’ll be able to get regular feedback and share insights with your team. Besides, discussing the potential of every member of the team is also a must. In this case, you will help your team understand what they can do and how they can achieve success. Besides, this will build trust between you and your team.