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Mastering a culture of success in global teams: key takeaways

Working with multicultural teams is no longer the exception; for many, it’s everyday reality. But leading such teams to success takes a specific kind of approach. With 17 years of expertise as a leader in (international) IT sourcing and recruiting, Amon invited high-performance coach Dominic Rossi and cross-cultural consultant Simone Buijzen to talk about mastering a culture of success within multicultural teams.

Here are our key takeaways from that inspiring networking breakfast on June 6th, 2024.

The why and how of high performing leaders

“My parents have never been a good team”, said author and high-performance individual coach Dominic Rossi in his keynote speech. Dominic, who has been coaching high-performing individuals for almost 15 years, took the captivated audience through a journey made of hard-earned life lessons to promote one singular idea: “high performing teams are led by high performing leaders”.

Sounds simple enough in theory, but it often isn’t in practice. To help us on the way, Dominic shared 4 actionable principles:

1. The better the relationship, the better the performance

Nobody likes to go the extra mile for someone they can’t stand; make sure you build a strong and respectful personal relationship with your employees to grow together as a team.

2. Work consciously every day to create a safe environment

Safety is not just something to write in your code of conduct; team members need to feel they can share, fail and be vulnerable with you. They need to know you will listen before judging.

3. Show genuine interest and attention

Weekly status calls are all good and well, but showing interest in your employees as individuals makes them want to give you their all. This takes informal 1:1 talks.

4. Dare to show yourself and give others the opportunity to be seen

Put yourself at risk and encourage others to step in to the spotlight and take credit when they need and deserve it.

Put differently: by living up to their own values and paying attention to their colleagues’ uniqueness, leaders can bring out the very best in their team members both in local and international contexts. When it comes to doing so on a daily basis, there are a few easy practices you can introduce right away. For example:

growth talks (1:1s with leadership to focus on personal growth)
check-ins/outs (what are we going to achieve this week – and did we get it done?)
high-performance training days (daylong workshops to actively and openly work on team issues)

What makes multicultural teams (un)successful?

After Dominic inspired the audience to live up to their personal values every day, Simone Buijzen emphasized the importance of understanding cultural differences to bridge them and even get something out of them. Director and senior cross-cultural consultant at The Culture Team, Simone has 15+ years of experience with multicultural teams. Having worked and lived in various countries, from Indonesia to Australia, she shared her interesting insights in what makes multicultural teams successful, or just the opposite.

Centered around the question “When someone says ‘yes’, is their body saying ‘no’?”, language and culture were highlighted as critical aspects. After all, speaking the same language doesn’t always guarantee mutual understanding because people and cultures are made of so much more than (just) words. To make sure cultural differences do not become a hindrance to performance, it is crucial to not only address them, but to understand them and play to their strengths.

Practical tips for leaders of multicultural teams

Having seen a lot of multicultural teams and struggling leaders, Simone’s concluding message was loud and clear: leading someone from another culture to success takes hard work. To achieve just that, she shared a few practical tips:

Leverage team members with a multicultural background – they’ve faced very similar challenges growing up and can help you navigate stormy waters.

Don’t forget the social sphere – connecting socially outside of work can go a long way when it comes to building bridges.

Get to know the cultures of international team members – a little light research on your part can have a great positive impact.

Ultimately, the most important thing to remember is to listen, be open and be attentive to what’s important to team members with different cultural backgrounds. This way you’ll uncover and appreciate the valuable qualities they have to offer.

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