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Motivating My Team... "The Inter-Cultural Manager"

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

The Inter-Cultural Manager, Part 2 of 4

I want to find the key to my diverse team members’ intrinsic motivations, but how can I figure those out?

In the last 20 years we have worked with managers and their teams in over 70 countries. Managing a team in today’s world is a challenge, especially if that team is diverse and working virtually.

The first article focused on “Directing and Delegating” and in this second article we want to equip you to unlock the second most common challenge managers face: creating a motivational team environment (Article Three: “Developing your People", Article Four: “Collaborating with Peers and your Boss”).

We address these challenges with two spotlights: the spotlight of our cultural wiring and the spotlight of our behavioral style. In this article we will use the Three Colors of Worldview© from KnowledgeWorkx and the Everything DiSC® Management Profile from Wiley, to illuminate the subject of motivation and give you clear guidance on unlocking motivation on your team.

Is it even my Job to Create a Motivational Environment?

Inspirational managers are present in every culture, but the idea of creating a motivational environment is not a common concept. Before we start unpacking the concept we have to start by asking “Is this even the role of the manager culturally?”

It all depends on a more foundational question: "From a cultural perspective, is the team there to help the manager get his job done? Or is the manager there to help the team get their jobs done?”

This is a bit of a contentious question, and one that does not have a black and white answer. But the direction the answer leans has significant consequences for how the manager will operate!

We have found that if the cultural context says, “The team is there to help the manager get the job done!” then creating a motivational environment is automatically not the manager’s responsibility.

Instead the manager’s job becomes mainly cracking the whip and checking on people to make sure they are keeping up, so the manager can tick off the KPI’s they are responsible for.

Personal Triggers

Every person IS motivated, but not in the same way as you! So, if you want to motivate people, you will have to figure out what their personal key(s) to motivation are!

This can get complex, but the bottom line is that managers need to come alongside each of their team members and find an answer to the question: “How do I trigger this team members’ motivation?” Everyone has motivation, and that motivation is inside – but everyone does not always get the opportunity to allow their motivation to flourish.

From an Everything DiSC® point of view, people’s motivation is triggered if they can operate within their personal behavioral styles. Each behavioral style has a variety of motivational and demotivational behaviors and activities. It is crucial to know those about yourself and your team members!

Below are some examples:

D-oriented profiles are motivated by:

  • Acknowledge the value they bring

  • Give them control

  • Create a sense of urgency and importance

i-oriented profiles are motivated by:

  • Encourage their positive energy

  • Create opportunities for collaboration

  • Provide time to connect relationally

S-oriented profiles are motivated by:

  • Avoid rushing wherever possible

  • Work on structure and process together

  • Give them time to reflect and contribute their ideas

C-oriented profiles are motivated by:

  • Explain the purpose of a task with solid logic

  • Allow them to define their own quality standards

  • Communicate and align on expectations and give enough time

From a cultural point of view, we can learn that people are also looking for certain social/cultural catalysts.

The Three Colors of Worldview© is a great tool to understand the cultural motivators your team is bringing to work! There are three main motivators/demotivators:

  1. The idea of doing the right thing is central from an Innocence-Guilt point of view. Am I treated fairly? Do I have a voice? Am I convinced we are doing the right thing for me, my team, the company, and society? Can I voice my opinion when it comes to improvements and things that are not going the way they should?

  2. If somebody is more Honor-Shame oriented, the key is, “Am I doing work that my family or country will see as honorable? Is my job aligned with acquiring honor for the group, the community, and the tribe I belong to?” It is incredibly important that the job itself does not trigger shame mechanisms, or situations where the employee has to stay quiet about the place they work, because they are afraid people will look down on them and their family. So the alignment of that, and giving space to discover on their own terms ways to bring honor to the team and family and community is a key to motivation.

  3. Lastly, from a Power-Fear point of view, it is important for people that their job enhances the respect people have for them; that it gives opportunity to enhance their power base, and also might create a situation where they feel personally activated and empowered.

A good manager uses power mostly in an empowering and life-giving way. When that is the case, people tend to respond with loyalty and commitment. That comes from seeing the manager has their back, and that he or she is there for the team and protects the team members because they are worthy of it. When this is the case we expect high motivation from a more Power-Fear oriented individual.

It is incredibly helpful to understand which Three Colors of Worldview motivators each team member brings to work. At the same time a manager cannot dance forever around the varying cultural currents of individual team members. It is crucial to create a team culture that takes all contributing team members into account and decide: “This is how we as a team are going to do it.” Using the “Three Colors of Worldview Litmus Test” is a powerful way to create a motivational environment on your team:

  • Is this approach received as the right thing to do?

  • Is this approach seen as bringing honor to individuals, the team, our organization?

  • Is this approach empowering and life-giving to my team?

The more the above three questions are answered positively, the more likely your team will experience their motivation come alive on your team! It creates motivational flow from the inside-out. There is nothing more powerful than intrinsic motivation in a time when uncertainty and ambiguity is the new normal.

It is crucial for the manager to creating a motivational environment and become the architect of the team culture. This will lead to a team culture that will be seen as “our way of doing things” by all team members. We encourage managers to capture this team in a “Team Charter”.

How to Grow as an Inter-Cultural Manager

Globalization and recent crisis have created a complicated world! We cannot learn to navigate these challenges unless we elevate our thinking. We need to rise above the thinking that created the challenges we now face! Managers who want to create relational success on their team they need to become better students of themselves and their team members. Learn how to come alongside their cultural wiring and the behavioral style of their team and create a resonant team culture where everybody feels they belong!

Get a coach who will help you turn on these two spotlights as a manager, facilitating a workshop for you and your team with the Everything DiSC® Management Profile from an inter-cultural perspective.

Unpacking an Everything DiSC Management® profile takes two coaching sessions of 90 minutes and will give you a clear strategy to develop your management competencies in: Directing & Delegating, Creating a Motivational team environment, Developing your Team Members, Working with peers and your boss.


This Series: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4


If you are interested in turning on just the intercultural spotlight first, we can do that. Talk to us about scheduling a coaching series or team workshop, and discover how the Three Colors of Worldview and 12 Dimensions of Culture can help you and your team develop the cultural agility you need.


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