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Traits Leaders Need When Managing Global Teams

Thailand is increasingly central to the global economy. Its’ manufacturing industries are booming and the country is a key hub in today’s interconnected and globalised supply chain. Because of Thailand’s location in Southeast Asia and its open economic and political outlook, businesses from Europe and North America are keen to shift their production or open new branches here. But managing global teams is never simple. 

Ninety-one percent of businesses surveyed by HSBC in 2023 expect to expand into Southeast Asia over the next two years. As businesses extend their reach, they need effective leadership capable of steering multinational teams towards success. From bridging cultural gaps to navigating time zone differences to encouraging collaboration across geographical boundaries, the role of a leader in a global setting is demanding. 

Whether you are a business seeking executive talents to take your global initiatives forward or an ambitious individual eager to cultivate your leadership ability, we’ll help you understand what it takes to manage global teams successfully.

Working with Cultural Differences in Multinational Teams

When managing global teams, leaders must notice and understand diverse cultural codes at play and then choose creative ways of addressing challenges that can affect the ability of teams to get the job done. 

Culturally smart leaders can see how different ways of working can be innovative, and how they can interact to create alternative processes and procedures. They are able to bridge the gap between cultures, providing space for discussion and guiding team members to leverage the positives of working cross-culturally. 

Get more insights into how Thai and Western work cultures differ and how they can work together.

4 Key Traits for Global Team Management

Once you understand the cultural differences at play, you can work on developing essential skills that can help you manage global teams successfully.

Traits of effective managers and leaders of multinational teams include the following:

  1. Communication

    Good communication makes it easier for global teams to work well together. Multinational teams often struggle with distance, both physical and cultural, which can breed misunderstandings and make it harder to spot mistakes. 

    To cultivate good communication,  implement practices and procedures aimed at sharing information and building connections. Establish rotating schedules for team meetings, ensuring that all members have equal opportunities to contribute, regardless of their geographic location. Timing matters too. Send emails and plan meetings when everyone can be online during their work hours.

    Additionally, create opportunities for informal interactions, perhaps through virtual happy hours or casual gatherings, allowing team members to build personal connections beyond the confines of work-related discussions.
  2. Transparency

    Demonstrating a commitment to transparency and honesty in your leadership creates a culture where individuals can feel encouraged to speak openly and share relevant information. This not only strengthens team bonds but can improve trust – 86% of leaders say that the more transparent they are, the more their workforce trusts them. 

    Transparency also aligns individuals with your organisation's values and culture, creating a shared sense of purpose. Sharing information about projects happening in other locations breaks down barriers and helps team members to see the bigger picture, understand how their contributions fit into the organisation's goals, and feel a sense of connection to the broader company culture.

    Build honesty and transparency into your own ways of working as well. Be as open as you can about challenges and successes and be willing to admit mistakes while detailing any new plans of action. 
  3. Resilience 

    Managing global teams is a juggling act. There are many opportunities for things to go wrong or for plans to change suddenly. The ability to bounce back from challenges and recover effectively is important. Cultivating personal resilience means maintaining a positive mindset, learning from difficult experiences, and remaining steadfast when problems arise. 

    It’s also important to encourage resilience in your teams, keeping everyone on track. Leaders can do this by fostering a supportive environment as well as modelling positive behaviours particularly around wellbeing.

    Empower your teams by recognising and celebrating small wins, acknowledging effort, and emphasising a collective approach to problem-solving. Develop open communication channels to allow team members to share concerns and seek help. Provide opportunities for professional development to instil confidence and equip individuals with the skills to tackle challenges head-on.
  4. Visibility

    Effective leaders should be seen – something that can be hard to do if you are managing a large, geographically distant team! Visibility is a crucial leadership trait when overseeing multinational teams because it encourages approachability and connection. Leaders need to overcome distance by actively engaging with team members, being approachable, and demonstrating emotional and cultural intelligence in their interactions. Cultural intelligence allows leaders to apply their emotional intelligence appropriately while understanding and responding to the needs of their diverse teams.

    Visible leaders inspire by both showcasing enthusiasm for the organisation's goals and encouraging team members to share their own passions. When managing multinational teams, leaders who prioritise visibility lay the groundwork for stronger relationships, effective communication, and a shared sense of purpose across borders.

In today’s highly connected and global business world, leaders who can effectively manage multinational team are a valuable commodity. Businesses moving into Thailand should prioritise finding talent with the skills to navigate such a challenging role. Likewise, candidates wanting to appeal to multinational businesses should take the opportunity to expand their skillsets and develop key leadership traits. Together we can create collaborative, resilient, and thriving teams ready to take their place on the world stage.

As Thailand's leading Industrial, Logistics and Supply Chain recruitment agency, we connect business with experienced, technically proficient, English-speaking candidates at every level across Thailand and Southeast Asia. 

Whether you’re an employer or a candidate, we can help you take advantage of the current market, grow your business, or progress in your career. 

Learn more about JacksonGrant’s innovative service offering, find a new role, or get in touch with a consultant to discuss your needs.