I could also say that what you believe to be the problem and the real problem is NOT the same. Let me inspire you.
This client led a big multicultural team with humans from Europe, India, and Brazil. A great asset. She found it difficult to merge cultural differences and to get them working efficiently together towards their goal.
In our first conversation, she moved from cultural differences as being the problem to communication. She wanted to create an environment where employees felt safe to be direct.
Her communication had resulted in a supportive environment but not in an environment where employees looked proactively for solutions.
The team was supportive in the sense of being kind to each other, and as a result, they avoided confrontation and direct feedback. Nobody wanted to destroy a calm environment, nor to offend somebody!
Before diving into her communication, I asked her this:
— Could you delegate and trust that your team can do the work by themselves?
It came down to the fact that she noticed that it's not so much about cultural differences as her ability to release control and delegate.
So going from a team of 10 to a group of 40 people, you can't talk to them directly. When you can't control what message, what emails went out, and what did they discuss in their meetings simply because you aren't able to be present in all the arrangements, it's a problem if you don't know how to manage it.
At this point, she had an aha-moment:
Yes, it was about her leadership. I proposed to look at how she was operating on a day-to-day basis. What were the tasks of her management role that she didn't like, she didn't excel at, and she could delegate.
Structuring her operations helped her see that she had too many activities open and that choosing was urgent because she couldn't be engaged in all of them. We created the criteria of what was strategic and what wasn't.
As a part of her strategic activities, she blocked time to work on her leadership development by herself and to:
At the end of her coaching program, this director felt renewed control. Not in the sense of being involved in every precise detail, but the first line of adequate reporting helped her manage the team as a whole.
→ What's your experience running multicultural teams? Do you find a good balance between culture, communication, and leadership model? Share your experience in the comments. Let's spark the conversation.
This case is part of the Professional Challenges that Nail Down to Personal Issues series.
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