Leading Diverse Teams Across Cultural And Generational Barriers

Rowan Blair Colver
3 min readMar 1, 2021


Lucid Leadership — Rowan B. Colver

We Are More Connected Than Ever Before

We know the world is diverse, there are people of all ages and all cultures. Sometimes the way people think can be vastly different from each other. The cultural norms within societal groups change, with general knowledge working counter-actively through a number of political, religious, and lifestyle choices. The reason one person feels a certain way can be a natural antithesis for someone else of a different culture. These dividers can make diverse teams difficult to maintain. However, in order to best meet the world in all its diversity, diverse teams are the best fit for getting the best access and incentives for meeting the whole marketplace. By understanding the way people think, even when you don’t agree, you can position and produce in order to appeal to and in order to prevent misunderstandings with customers.

Cultural Understanding Is Valuable

Different cultures have varying ways of talking about things. Even if they speak the same language, the vocabulary people use most often will change. Knowing the right way to speak to someone that helps them feel in an open and responsive relationship is necessary for guiding customers through the service and shop. Language barriers can mean the difference between a sale and an ignore. Culturally diverse teams can bridge these gaps.

Recommended Read: Transformational Coaching to Lead Culturally Diverse Teams (Routledge Focus on Coaching)

Is This Really A Good Idea?

When coming up with ideas for new methods, products, and communications, diverse teams hold a larger pool of common wisdom. People from different walks of life have expertise and experience with a whole range of things that work to complement their primary role. Fishing from a large pond will be more productive than fishing from a little one. So having a team that has an interest in a lot of diverse thinking will be a big asset for creative problem-solving.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Red flags and warning signs present themselves in subtle ways we sometimes don’t acknowledge or even notice. Unless we have experience with a certain type of problem or unhelpful situation, we probably won’t see it until it’s hit us. When we have a team that appreciates a wide array of traps and schemes, it will be easier to tell when we are on the wrong path. Occasionally there are people who we could do without and there are protocols in place that become troublesome. Being able to identify these things before they make an impact and act in our best interests takes a requirement for a wide range of experiences.

Bringing People Together Further

Managing diverse groups of people in a leadership role can be challenging. A significant portion of individuals are raised to fear, mistrust, and prejudge other cultures. The age gap is difficult for some, with authority issues being raised along with differing skill-sets that make communication tricky, other cultures are also seen as a source of concern. Even national newspapers and politicians can be found to be making broad-leaf judgements about cultures due to the actions of the contrarian minority. We have to treat people as individuals and not as a chip off the homogenous block of opposition. A leader’s role is to remind team members of this self-evident truth at every turn.

Enjoy Being Part Of The Bigger Story

Appreciating and embracing other cultures can be a challenge. It’s natural to fear things we don’t understand and in a lot of cases we don’t feel fear but we summon feelings of apathy and humour to shield ourselves from what we subconsciously don’t want to do. Getting people confident with culture can be an enjoyable experience and teams need people who are willing to dedicate time to this. When we embrace culture for ourselves we set a great example to the others in our team and network. It needs leading lights to make the dark passageway look safe to walk. We need to plan and design our multi-cultural outlook based on active and persistent diversity building. Once we establish a safe and diverse atmosphere in which everyone understands their part alongside the parts of others and in a respectful and open way, the team will be world-class.

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Rowan Blair Colver

Music writer and humanities educator from Sheffield in England. Democracy of philosophy, comments are welcome. ko-fi.com/rowanblaircolver