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Beyond the Resume: How to Truly Understand Your Multicultural Team's Strengths

When you're leading a multicultural team, you know that each member brings something unique to the table. But have you ever stopped to think about how those individual strengths combine to make your team what it is? It's not just about adding up skills or averaging out personality traits. To get the most out of your team, you need to dig deeper. Here's how.

The Two Ways Team Traits Combine

  1. Compositional: This is the straightforward way. You look at each team member's skills or traits and average them out. If you have five team members and they're all good at problem-solving, you'd say you have a strong problem-solving team.

  2. Compilational: This one's a bit more complex. Here, you consider that not everyone's skills or traits have the same impact on the team. Maybe you have a team member who's a whiz at tech stuff. If you're working on a tech-heavy project, that person's skills will weigh more heavily in the team's overall ability.

Let's say you're leading a multicultural team on a marketing project. You have graphic designers, copywriters, and strategists. While everyone's role is important, the strategists might have a bigger impact on the project's direction. In this case, their skills would be more "weighty" in the team's overall composition.

Why This Matters for Multicultural Teams

In a multicultural team, these dynamics get even more interesting. Cultural backgrounds can influence how people approach work, solve problems, or even how they communicate. Understanding this can help you manage your team more effectively.

Imagine your team includes members from Japan, where consensus is highly valued, and from the U.S., where individual initiative is often encouraged. If you're working on a project that requires quick, decisive action, the American team members might naturally take the lead. Recognizing this can help you balance the team's approach to the project.

Practical Strategies for Leaders

  1. Team Audit: Take some time to list out each team member's skills, traits, and cultural background. Then think about how these elements combine in the context of your current projects. Are there skills or traits that have more influence than others?

  2. Adjust Your Leadership: Once you've got a good grasp of your team's compositional and compilational dynamics, tweak your leadership style to match. If you find that certain team members have skills that are crucial for a project, consider giving them a leadership role in that area.

By taking the time to understand not just who's on your team, but also how their unique skills and backgrounds combine, you'll be better equipped to lead them to success. So go beyond the resume. Dive into the dynamics of your team, and lead them in a way that makes the most of what each member has to offer.


  1. What specific skills or traits are disproportionately influencing your team's current project, and how can you leverage them for greater success?

  2. Have you identified any cultural factors that significantly impact your team's dynamics, and how can you adapt your leadership style to better align with these factors?

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