Leading A Global Team: How To Manage A Multicultural Group
Guest Blog Post by Robert Brands 3/26/12
Innovation leaders must manage a team and foster an environment that nurtures creativity. And when it comes to situations of dealing with international teams, the innovation leader should be aware of, understand, and respect the cultural differences that come along the way.
Cultural factors affect the way that we all live, conduct business, and even the level that we are able to innovate in our business. If team members come from different countries, they will think and behave differently, and you will need to understand that their response to business leadership will be different than someone from another culture. Even though multi-cultural groups may carry out meetings using the English language, a forward thinking innovation leader will realize all members will not be equally proficient and some people may be translating from English to their native language in their heads. Body language, facial expressions, communication styles, formal versus informal gatherings and even modes of dress are other factors to consider when meeting with a cross section of cultures.
In the United States, you will normally see sommunication styles that are time efficient, informal and direct. Not all countries practice direct confrontation and outside the United States, meeting styles such as ours can be seen as more aggressive than in other cultures. Global team leaders should be sensitive to this fact.
In France, meetings are more heavily formatted with emphasis on hierarchy. The boss is rarely contradicted, so the key to success is to build consensus for an idea prior to a meeting. French executives value sophisticated language and communication skills.
Meetings in Brazil tend to emphasize relationship-building, using informal communication style, direct eye contact, bold body language, and passionate verbal communication. Team members prefer to know their defined roles and the details of the chain of command, while timing is less of an absolute.
Team members in China may be reluctant to go against the group because the culture is consensus driven and team oriented. Decision-making is best done after meetings in a series of discussions as team members are often reluctant to say “no” or go against the group.
There is no right or wrong way to conduct business, just different styles working to achieve sustained innovation. As with any group, each individual within is unique, however there are certain commonalities among cultures in regards to how they communicate and react in a meeting environment. An effective innovation leader understands that those cultural differences exist, and encourages mutual respect among multicultural groups.
Robert Brands is an innovation speaker who instructs his clients how to become a proven practitioner of innovation, clear steps for implementation, and the value of hands-on experience. He is one of the many talented innovation speakers on MotivationalSpeakersWorldwide.com.