The Role of a Team Lead in a Multicultural IT Team

Article author: Artem Mikhailov

Many IT companies today work with multicultural teams, where people from different cultural backgrounds work together towards common goals. In this article, we will look at the features of working as a Team Lead in a multicultural IT team and give advice on how to effectively manage such a team. We will look at culturally sensitive learning management, conflict management, and methods to motivate a multicultural team. The purpose of this article is to help IT team leaders build a successful multicultural team and achieve optimal results when working on projects.

Multiculturalism in an IT team is like a mixture of fruits in a salad: each ingredient is a separate culture that brings its own taste and color to the overall beauty. However, if you do not take into account some features of national traditions, then you can get a real culinary failure instead of a beautiful and tasty salad.

As a Team Lead in this gourmet cuisine, you need to be aware that each culture has its own standards and work habits. For example, some employees may consider it indecent to discuss personal life at work, while others, on the contrary, consider it the norm. There are cultures in which communication between colleagues must be very formal and strict, and there are those where the main thing is personal intimacy and relationships based on trust. All this should be taken into account when working with a multicultural team.

Also, keep in mind that different cultures may have different approaches to solving problems: some prefer precision and accuracy, others prefer speed and efficiency. And here serious troubles already arise: what to do if colleagues solve the same problem in different ways? Banging brushes on the table and shouting “My right to say that my approach is correct!” – not the best solution. Instead, you need to learn how to find compromises and respect other people’s opinions.

Finally, another important feature of a multicultural team is the language barrier. Yes, everyone works with code that everyone understands, but communication between colleagues is not limited to talking about code, is it? It is clear that no one is obliged to learn the languages ​​​​of all countries of the world, but it is worth at least having basic knowledge in matters relating to work and communication.

Multiculturalism in an IT team is a real art. But if you take into account the peculiarities of national cultures and have learned how to remove the language barrier, then you have every chance to create a real work of art in the form of a harmonious and friendly team!


An effective communication approach is one of the most important tools that can help a Team Lead work in a multicultural team.

The first step in effective communication is understanding the differences in cultures. To work effectively in a multicultural IT team, it is important to understand the peculiarities of cultural differences between its members. For example, in some cultures, expressive criticism of colleagues who make mistakes is considered the norm, while in other cultures such an attitude can be perceived aggressively and provoke a hostile reaction.

In addition, differences in language can also lead to misunderstandings. For example, in some cultures the terms, arguments, and rules of meetings are usually discussed not at the beginning of the meeting and not in Russian, but in English, while in other cultures, Russian will be the common language and an important means of communication.

The next step is to establish common rules and standards for team communication. You must do this in a culturally appropriate manner, preventing conflict and ensuring mutual understanding.

As an example of a standard, you can set a clear time for working meetings, where English is always used, which all team members are familiar with. You can also establish ground rules for discussing issues and the order in which opinions are expressed to ensure that everyone is given an equal chance to speak.

Further, it is important to use clear and understandable language. It is important to avoid language or cultural expressions that may be incomprehensible or cause misunderstanding. Use appropriate terms and phrases to ensure that you understand exactly what you want to convey.

Finally, don’t forget to give feedback. This is especially important in multicultural teams where uncertainty and misunderstanding is possible. Feedback helps to correct problems and improve communication in the team as a whole.

Multicultural Team Motivation Methods

When you work in a multicultural IT team, problems can appear already at the stage of mutual understanding. No one wants to waste time explaining terms in their native language or looking up Google translate for the right phrases. Fortunately, there are methods that help team members stay motivated and productive.

First method It’s about setting a common goal. A common goal can help a multicultural IT team not only come together and feel important, but also increase productivity. With a clear and understandable goal, each team member can direct all their efforts towards achieving this goal, rather than wasting time on discussions and explanations.

To establish a common goal, it is necessary to have a discussion of joint work with team members and determine what exactly they would like to achieve in the process of work. This may be a complete understanding of each other, an understanding of the culture of all team members, etc.

It is also important to pay attention to the fact that the goal should be specific, measurable and achievable. If the goal is formulated too abstractly, it may be unattainable or simply uninteresting for the team.

When the goal is defined, it is necessary to communicate it to all team members and ensure uniformity in the understanding of the project. Team members can independently set their own personal goals that will help them achieve the team goal and be more productive.

As a result, setting a common goal will help a multicultural IT team not only feel like they belong in the project, but also give its members a sense of unity, conviction in their activities and motivation, so that projects will be implemented more efficiently and in accordance with their schedule and budget.

Second method is language learning together. No one in a foreign country (and even more so in a foreign team) should not feel like a black sheep. So if you speak English, for example, and some of your colleagues are just learning the language, don’t hesitate to offer help with translation or organize English courses for your team members.

Third method are cultural events. Diversify the life of your team by organizing cultural programs and trips to interesting events that can be used as an additional motivator for productivity and problem solving. You can, for example, organize a cultural tour from each member of your company. Such a tour will help each member of the team to get to know the culture of another person.

But don’t forget that the best motivator is your own work and accomplishments. When colleagues see that you are working hard on a project and achieving results, they will also be motivated to achieve a common goal.


In conclusion, we can say that the role of Team Lead in a multicultural IT team is not only responsible, but also very interesting. It is important to understand that cultural differences can cause misunderstanding and conflict within the team, but with the right approach to management, excellent results can be achieved. As a Team Lead, you need to be able to approach each member of the team and make sure everyone feels comfortable and confident in their tasks. This will help to create an efficient, productive and harmonious working environment, even in an intercultural environment.

I want to end the article with a useful recommendation:

Risks are rarely considered. Especially team leads. But in vain. After all, this is a powerful tool that can prevent and even solve many design problems. wishing to attend a free webinar “Risk Management for Development Team Leads”.

At the webinar, OTUS educators will talk about the meaning of risks and why they need to be managed. Why risk management for a team leader, how to manage risks so that this makes sense and benefits.

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