Leveraging Difference and Building Successful Global Teams

By definition, global teams are diverse…

…and there is plenty of research showing that diverse teams have the potential to outperform homogeneous teams. The McKinsey Diversity Report has shown this year after year.

So how do we ensure that a global, diverse team is happy and effective?

The answer lies in acknowledging and respecting the rich variety of backgrounds and contributions various members bring to the team. In reconciling different preferences, global teams can foster a culture in which everyone has a sense of ownership and which promotes the best synergies among the team.

Intercultural workshops usually start by creating self-awareness of the norms and expectations we bring into the workplace. When our expectations are not met by others, we often jump to negative conclusions.

After the initial self-awareness stage, workshops focus on exploring cultural preferences of team members when it comes to leadership, empowerment, and communication. Working virtually introduces a whole set of additional challenges, which can bring cultural preferences and differences into sharp relief and which need to be addressed.

Based on these insights, the team can then move on to creating their own team charter, exploring how they want to work together in the future and giving everyone a sense of ownership in what they have created. This is an important step towards achieving real inclusion and leveraging difference.

The benefits and reward can be manifold. International teams in which everybody has a voice, and which are characterized by mutual respect, offer a broader range of perspectives and potential solutions. This enables the team to tap into global knowledge, allows disruptive thinking, and supports innovation.

Written by Heike Saxer-Taylor

Heike is an IOR consultant, intercultural trainer, and executive coach based in the UK. She shares her insight with IOR in intercultural training for today’s Global Teams.