Can you lead multicultural groups spread around the world?
Leadership can be challenging when you team consists of people of numerous nationalities and on top of it are in different locations all over the world. Devote 2 minutes to watching Anne Edmondson, Harvard Business School professor, outline her ideas on how to succeed:
Geographically dispersed teams offer a lot of benefits – increased efficiency, cost savings, and enables you to choose team members with optimal skills, regardless of where in the world they are. Videoconferencing, intranet and email has already made that way of working an option that’s likely to become even more popular. Actually believe that’s how we will increasingly work in the future.
To make a success of your global team, chose team players with the right characteristics and ensure that you have the best possible communication.
What kind of team members should you chose?
They need to be self-motivated, have good communication skills, be result driven, open and honest.
It’s essential to unite all members around a common objective and communicate clearly and frequently.Set up goals and make sure bonding takes place between all of you. Giving assessment and reward performance is even more important when the members of your team are scattered around the world.
People who need constant encouragement and attention to get the job done is a complication to be avoided. You simply cannot devote the time necessary to make such members perform that you would have been able to do if you were in the same office. For the same reason it’s also essential that all members of the team feel they can to come to you with problems and really unite around a common purpose. Everyone must have a desire to reach the team’s goals and clearly understand and be motivated by their roles and responsibilities.
Give frequent and fair feed-back to everyone and make yourself available to all members of your team. Can be a bit inconvenient sometimes due to time difference. Have many times had to get up extremely early, or stay up late, in order to talk to a team member on the other side of the world. But there is no avoiding it if you want your team to stay on track.
Since you are not meeting on a daily basis it’s also important to visit them now and then to make sure they feel important.
Don’t forget different cultures and values
Obviously it’s easier for those of us who have lived and worked all over the world. Provided of course that you integrated, understood the different cultures and what drives people from there. Am frequently surprised at how people, especially in the West, just presume that the way we think in say, the US or Sweden, applies to all of humanity. But you have to motivate all members of your team regardless of nationality so it’s essential to make sure you really understand what drives people from different cultures.
Do you have experience in leading teams of different nationalities spread around the world? Did you find Anne Edmondson’s advice useful? Were you able to build trust when you were not meeting the team on a daily basis? Are you able to ensure that everyone feels they’re treated fairly, even if you see some team members much more than others? How do you avoid members of your team feeling isolated? What can you do to make all players feel part of the team’s objectives and perform according to plan? Which aspects do you find most challenging when your team is spread around the world? Do you believe diverse groups spread around the world will increasingly be the way we will work in the future?
(Video: HarvardBusiness – You Tube Picture: World Economic Forum)