Leadership is an absolute necessity for businesses aiming to achieve long-term success. Oftentimes, when a business struggles, it can be directly attributed to their lack of effective leadership.
The biggest problem with finding leadership is the fact that it’s difficult to develop. Leaders can be built, but it takes time, patience, and persistence to do so.
And, when you mix in individuals from different cultures, it becomes that much more difficult. This is especially true because of the fact that leadership is defined in various ways by different people.
So, how do you get a team from different cultures to bond around a common goal when it’s challenging enough to do so within a single culture?
Well, that’s what this article aims to do; provide some actionable tips for how you can build a strong team of individuals from different cultures that are all focused on a single goal.
Let’s get started.
Tip #1 – Encourage Open and Supportive Communication
When you’re leading a team of individuals from different cultures, it’s important that, from the very beginning, you create an environment that encourages open and supportive communication.
As Dr. Kenji Klein of the University of California points out:
There are a number of actions managers can take to ensure communication quality within diverse teams. The first is to create a psychologically safe communication climate within the organization and team.
It needs to be identified from the outset that there will be differences in the way you interact and that it’s important that these differences do not cause rifts.
By being upfront about the potential challenges that your diverse team will face, you make it more comfortable for those individuals that feel “out of the loop” to communicate their issues.
Klein also makes a solid point about it being a good idea to avoid putting:
…individuals who are especially bad at cross cultural communication in culturally diverse teams.
By initially creating a team of individuals that are already comfortable in a diverse environment, you can avoid many of the potential communication issues that are common to these teams.
The optimal way to do this is by hiring bilingual/multilingual employees from the outset. Doing so helps contribute to an environment of trust, understanding, and open communication.
For example, hiring an employee from France that resents the US or Chinese cultures would obviously make it difficult for them to work together.
By focusing on bringing in people who are already comfortable in this environment, you make it much more likely that things will work out for the best.
Tip #2 – Properly Balance Productivity With Comfort and Relaxation
No matter how you slice it, the measure of success for a team almost always comes down to how productive that team is.
But for many leaders, balancing productivity with comfort and relaxation is a major challenge. After all, it’s well known that chronically stressed-out employees are much less productive.
One of the issues with creating an environment that is comfortable and relaxing is the fact that individuals from different cultures see and experience relaxation differently.
With this in mind, it’s important that you’re able to understand these differences and allow these individuals to create their own environment of relaxation.
Because of the difficulty of doing this, it’s often recommended that you enlist the services of a cultural consultant, as they will often have real-life experience creating this successful balance within businesses.
It may also be wise to really embrace the diversity of your team and create a newsletter that provides insight into how different members of your team distress and relax.
Not only can this help provide ideas for decreasing stress, but it can also lead to teammates developing a better understanding of each other.
Tip #3 – Focus on Building Trust
Building a strong team is about building trust in the leader and among the individuals within that team. This is something that’s important no matter what culture you’re working with.
The problem, however, is that the way in which trust is developed differs with different cultures.
As Nancy Settle-Murphy of Guided Insights points out:
For cross-cultural teams, relationship-building is even harder, since it’s so easy to misinterpret each other’s intentions and make incorrect assumptions in the absence of visual cues.
Settle-Murphy goes on to provide examples of how trust is built within different cultures.
As difficult as it may be, building trust is an absolute necessity if you hope to succeed as a leader of a multi-cultural team.
While it may take some time to get used to the differences between how trust is built within these different cultures, a clear focus on finding out how to build that trust is imperative.
While leading and building a team from different cultures is undoubtedly more difficult, the advantages of doing so are vast. By following the tips listed above, you can raise the likelihood that your cross-cultural team will contribute to long-term business success.
Question: Do you do business with people from different cultures? How do you develop teambuilding? You can leave your comments or your questions, by clicking here.