Characteristics of High-Performance Multicultural Teams


This day and age, teams in every industry and in every part of the world are multicultural – not just in terms of the nationality or ethnicity of the team members, but also in their functional, organizational, societal and identity group cultures. This can present challenges for team members and leaders, as well as the companies they work for.

Experts have distinguished five characteristics of productive groups – cohesion, collaboration, consensus, cooperation and cultural competence – what are called the “five C’s” of high-performing teams. Making sure a team reflects these characteristics increases its members’ effectiveness.

Cohesion results from rules and norms that govern teamwork and the way decisions are made. Collaboration results from team members participating creatively in planning, designing, developing, implementing and evaluating their work. Consensus results from team members committing to working through reservations about decisions before finalizing them – agreement does not mean giving in, but rather finding an optimal solution. Cooperation results from team members viewing conflict as an opportunity to explore differences and expand their understanding of and respect for each other. And finally, cultural competence results from team members valuing cultural differences for the unique and diverse contributions made to total team output.

Practicing the five C’s of high-performance teams leads to:

  • Visionary and participative leadership
  • Shared responsibility and continuous collaboration
  • Common purpose and consensus building
  • Commitment to valuing and leveraging differences and utilizing conflict constructively
  • Highly interactive, communicative and respectful relationships
  • Future-focused collaboration
  • Goal- and achievement-driven work
  • Responsiveness and flexibility
  • Commitment to continuous learning
  • Shared team culture

With the right strategy – one that embraces the 5 C’s of high-performing teams – team leaders, members and the companies they work for will benefit.

Ila Gandhi