Leadership Skills in Multicultural Groups

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In the global workplace, multicultural teams offer innovative thinking, opportunities for collaboration and diverse perspectives. The most effective leaders are those who can leverage team members’ skills and perspectives while addressing the conflicts that may arise as a result of those differences. Multiculturalism presents challenges, but it also has the potential to create a sustainable advantage in the form of rapid innovation, adaptability and efficiency (Karjalainen & Soparnot, 2012). To achieve this, a leader must consider key cultural differences and how each one can impact relationships and performance.

Once a leader identifies which of these attributes are present among group members, he or she can begin to facilitate open communication and an ongoing dialogue. First, the leader should be attuned to his or her own cultural cues and any biases or preferences that could impede the ability to lead objectively. Failure to do so adversely impacts both individual and team performance by creating distrust, compromising integrity and sacrificing efficiency and progress (Chattopadhyay, Finn & Neal, 2010) The next step is to openly discuss the importance of working with diverse team members and explain the benefits of doing so for the individual, team and company. Encourage members to recognize and accommodate the communication styles, protocol and perspectives of others and pledge to do the same. Acknowledging these differences publicly increases awareness of and tolerance for other members’ contributions and conditions and also directs each person to more closely consider their own work ethic, qualities and cultural nuances (Gupta, 2008).

If presented with a cultural conflict between two or more group members, the leader must hold all involved parties accountable for working as a team to arrive at a solution. Disrespect of any kind cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. It is impossible to fulfill the multicultural team’s potential if there are...
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