Most organizations today operate in a global environment. Goods and services are sourced and sold across international markets. As such, virtual teams’ are an enormous asset in almost any organizational setting. Leveraging diverse virtual teams across global markets has the capacity to determine unique multi-market strategies, undertake planning from diverse perspectives, carry out research in different markets, and perform other complex tasks that have the capacity to drive competitive advantage for global organizations.
Despite this fact, diverse virtual teams’ are an unexploited asset in most organizations. Even though the opportunities are enormous, most leaders also recognize that the challenges are significant as well. Teams with members from diverse cultural and functional backgrounds inevitably differ in their assumptions about decision-making and even in their preconceptions of teamwork – traditional models of multicultural collaboration often fail to leverage individual team members’ skills and experiences in productive ways.
There is a fundamental balance that you, as a leader, need to recognize and encourage in your virtual teams if you are serious about succeeding in today’s global marketplace: coexistence of differences and meaningful participation. The idea that differences can coexist productively, while facilitating meaningful contributions is not intuitive, because it’s complex.
This inherent complexity often causes leaders to opt for decreased productivity, rather than leveraging the immense potential that lies just beneath the surface of the virtual team. The potential resides in something that your multicultural virtual teams have that traditional teams do not:
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