Leading A Multicultural Team

Leading A Multicultural Team

Online technology and global platforms have increasingly allowed companies of all sizes to do business world-wide. As sales have increased, business teams have expanded – many of which are now scattered across the globe. Understanding how culture plays a part in team dynamics is more important than ever as a leader.

According to Business News Daily, “People of diverse backgrounds and places of origin offer a mix of skills, perspectives and ideas. A multicultural team brings new perspectives from around the world, which can lead to better problem solving. Multicultural teams also make businesses more inclusive and forward-thinking.”

In their recent article “How to Best Lead a Multicultural or International Team,” they spoke with Kristin Behfar (Professor at University of Virginia Darden School Foundation), Mary Kern (from Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College) and Jeanne Brett (from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University). They partnered together for a research project to interview people worldwide who had led multicultural teams. The results from that research uncovered four tips for a leader to get the most out of a diverse team:

  1. Break down cultural differences. Discuss behavioral and communication differences, and encourage openness in case someone unintentionally offends someone.
  2. Minimize the language barrier. Be intentional about avoiding colloquialisms, slang, or words that can be interpreted many ways. Include a multi-layer agreement/understanding process – especially when making decisions — to avoid miscommunication.
  3. Work around cultural customs. Honor vacations, daily siestas, or work schedules, and consider dietary restrictions for in-person gatherings.
  4. Avoid creating artificial divisions. Speak the common language of the team and avoid taboo topics like ethnic conflicts, political regime changes, world power discussions, etc.

Leading multicultural teams is a part of the Aepiphanni culture. Our team spans 4 continents and our diverse workforce continues to be one of foundations for our success. If you are interested in expanding your team to include other cultures, we’d love to help you with that.

Take a minute and book a Coffee & a Consult with us here!  There is no charge for this conversation and it will provide you an opportunity to learn how we may be able to help you achieve your long-term business goals.


Kris Cavanaugh Castro is the People Development Coach at Aepiphanni, the trusted advisor for business leaders who are seeking forward-thinking solutions to help them plan for and navigate through the challenges of business growth.  Kris has over 25 years of coaching, training and mentoring leaders to greater success; and she periodically writes about leadership development and facilitates change management conversations.

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