Leading a Culturally Diverse Team

Are you encouraging your team members to share their unique perspectives?

Summary
Transcript

Sandy Welfare, executive director of Women in Technology (WIT), shares the lessons she learned from years of leading culturally diverse teams.

“Leading a culturally diverse team means that you really do have to embrace what people bring to work every day,” says Sandy. “I have had the opportunity to work with those from Singapore, those from India, those from Australia. Their ability to see problems from a different perspective sometimes awed me. I would think I would not have ever thought of it that way, but that definitely helped me to understand sometimes the thinking can be totally different to get to the right end solution that you need.”

Watch the video to learn more from Sandy about how to lead a culturally diverse team.

Leading a culturally diverse team means that you really do have to embrace what people bring to work every day. And it's not things that you can see in some cases. Some cases, it may be that you do see. If I were to think about my time in London, we had celebrations for India, we had celebrations for British culture and we had celebrations for the American culture. The more I learned, the better I understood their perspective. And I think that that's a key component to working in a diverse culture but, more importantly, leveraging that talent that comes with it.

I have had the opportunity to work with those from Singapore, those from India, those from Australia. Their ability to see problems from a different perspective sometimes awed me. I would think I would not have ever thought of it that way, but that definitely helped me to understand sometimes the thinking can be totally different to get to the right end solution that you need. And so, most times, if you do have diverse cultures inside of a workplace, I've seen it be positive from the aspect of people having a different perspective. I think point of view definitely breeds well in the work environment. Over the years, I have had to check myself when I've been in a culturally diverse team because I came in as the American cowgirl riding on a horse. I wanted my way to be the right way and I found that there were different paths that you could get to the end solution.

I really had to open my mind and let the new ideas come in because you're sometimes needing to push past ego in order to get to the better idea. And it takes a bold step to be courageous to do that because if you're the leader, you want to be the person with the answers. And I think over the years, I've realized that the answer can come from some obscure person who's been sitting over on the sideline being extremely quiet about everything. And they come up with the right conclusion and the best idea.

And so, for me, it has taken a moment for me to check myself and be respectful of what they were bringing to the table. And then, more importantly, when they brought it to the table, saying, "This is the best idea that we have," and acknowledging that. Because I think sometimes people let the new idea come in, but they don't want to acknowledge that it was the best idea. And I think it bodes well for that individual as well as the entire team to see that you're sometimes needing to be the person, the bigger person, to get the better idea.
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Sandy Welfare

Sandy Welfare is executive director of Women in Technology (WIT). She has more than 20 years of global operations experience in Singapore, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. She has consulted with a myriad of Fortune...

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