7 Top Insights for Leading East-West Business Teams

Singapore skyline, Asian Business Teams

As business leader you are increasingly dealing with global business teams. For instance East-West business teams in which people from cultures you know rather well need to collaborate with people from cultures you are less familiar with. This is a new reality in today’s business world that has a great impact on the success of companies. And you don’t need to be in Asia to recognize this. Globalization, technology and growing FDI of Asian companies in the West increase the need for cross-cultural skills on both sides.

“To be successful in the current and future business world, cross-cultural skills are increasingly important.”

And mind you: just learning the unfamiliar Asian business etiquette is not enough.

Effectively assessing cross-cultural context and its impact on team performance is not always easy. Even after 25 years I still can find myself in situations where I think I recognize and understand the cultural differences, but nevertheless am surprised by the unexpected behavior of team members.

For instance, just a few weeks back I had a meeting with Indian team leads. It was about setting up a good planning for the coming 6 months. Not the first time in my life I had this type of discussion with Indians, and yet I tricked myself by not paying enough attention to the Indian appreciation of hierarchy versus my Dutch interpretation. By letting them decide on their own as a team they felt confused because they expected me to set a clear direction, and therefore they didn’t know how to meet my expectations. I needed to remind myself that empowering people works differently in the Indian culture versus the Anglo-Saxon cultures.

Over the years I have lead and facilitated many East-West business teams in complex transformations, learned a lot and repeatedly wrote about it.

Here are our top 7 articles, most popular with LeadershipWatch readers determined to improve their multicultural leadership skills.

We hope you find them useful too (you will find lots of practical tips!)

How to increase your understanding of the cultural differences in your team

1. Leading cross-cultural teams: do you understand the cultural differences in your team?

How to improve team communication

2. How to avoid making people lose face


3. How to create openness despite cultural differences


4. How to stimulate Asian team members to speak up

How to interpret and deal with authority across cultures

5. East and West perceive authority differently and it affects your team

How to plan and schedule better

6. Leading Indian – Dutch business teams: 3 insights that help create results

How to build mutual trust across cultures

7. Cross-cultural leadership: How to build mutual trust


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Photo: © HRS Business Transformation Services

Aad Boot leaning against a door postAad is a global business advisor, change leader/program manager, executive team facilitator, leadership coach, and frequently asked keynote speaker. He is founder and managing partner at HRS Business Transformation Services where he works with senior executives and their organizations globally in three key domains: ‘leading complex change’, ‘cross-cultural leadership’, and ‘post-merger integration’. Find out more about Aad, our services, and his keynotes. If you would like to invite Aad to your organization contact us.

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