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Issue 23
December 2014
When International Teams Collide
When International Teams Collide
Michael Gates discusses the problems that can
be faced when international teams collide and
ways of overcoming these cultural differences
Book Review -
Firms of Endearment - How
World Class Companies Profit From
Passion and Purpose
John Frost reviews Jag Sheth, Raj Sisodia and
David Wolfe’s
Firms of Endearment
Cross Cultural Executive Coaching
Our recent Case Study on Cross Cultural
Coaching for the India Country Manager of a
leading global manufacturer of electronic
instruments and electromechanical devices
Our Favourite Videos and Articles
Our most recent favourite videos including a
cross cultural communication talk by
Pellegrino Riccardi
Effective Storytelling: How to take people to
Karen Frost and Jane Sparrow consider how
effective storytelling can be used to improve
performance of employees and to develop their
personal connection to an organisation
Book Review - The Virgin Way
Laura Robertshaw reviews
The Virgin Way
, by
Richard Branson
Developing Inspirational Leaders
So the question is, what are they doing differently?
They have a high degree of self-awareness – both
individually and as a team. This tends not to come
International teams are a fact of life for many of
us. They cannot be avoided. But often we can feel
the frustration of collaborating with people who
have different world-views from ourselves and
diverse ways of communicating, dealing with
time and building trust.
The challenge
I recently spoke to the HR Director of a large global
engineering corporation where much project work
is done in global, dispersed, virtual teams. He said
that when young talented engineers are promoted
to lead international projects, they typically say
“never again!” at the end of the project. They rose to
a leadership role because of their technical skills –
but the challenge of managing diversity virtually, in
different time zones, was just too much. They were
generally logical, task oriented individuals who
came to realise that technical expertise and task-
orientation were not the key to making multicultural
teams a success. Something else was required – hu-
man beings are not as rational or as malleable as a
spread-sheet or project plan. As the German philoso-
pher Immanuel Kant said, “Out of the crooked tim-
ber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.”
Research by DiStefano and Maznevski into diverse
teams has shown that they are often a destructive,
unproductive mess. However, when they do gel,
their performance is better and more creative than
any homogeneous team.