Monday, March 26, 2012

Tips on Leading a Diverse team-Deepen your Cultural Awareness

There are many types of diverse teams.  The kinds I'm referring to in this blog are globally diverse least three different countries, multi-gender, multi-cultural, multi-racial teams.  The first team I led like this in Shell had a Danish expat male based in London,  a French male expat based in The Hague, an Australian woman  based in The Hague, an Australian woman based in Melbourne and an American woman based in Houston.  Later we added a Malaysian male based in Singapore.
First, a leader has to develop their cultural awareness.  Many will be familiar with the iceberg model, an example of which I've posted.  Those things above the waterline are those that are visible but actually represent a small percentage of the things that drive behavior that are represented below the water line.  I also believe there is some self study required.  Geert Hofstede's work and Fons Trompenaars work are both examples of research that can help leaders understand those things "under the water line" that are critical to successful leadership of a global team.   So tip #1 is Deepen your Cultural Awareness.  How?  Study, Reflect, Travel outside your home country.


  1. I agree with your tip #1. When you do travel outside your home country socialize with locals and people from countries other than your own. Avoid socializing exclusively with people from your home country. If you are in foreign country, try to learn the local language to the extent that is practical.
    Mark Corson

    1. Thanks Mark.....and I think "travel outside your home country" is only a start point. I think a leader really has to live outside their home country at least once to truly develop understanding of cultural differences and what that means to the way they lead. Only so much soaks in when you are in and out a few weeks at a time. I strongly believe that effective talent management strategies in a global company have to provide these "out of home country" opportunities to develop global bench strength