Leading with Cultural Intelligence
CQ is more than just knowledge
. The cultural intelligence
approach goes beyond simply emphasizing cultural under-
standing. It also includes a leader’s personal interests, strategic
thinking, and resulting behavior in cross-cultural situations.
Understanding the sociological differences in cultural beliefs,
values, and behaviors is essential, but it is incomplete apart
from also exploring the psychological dynamics involved as one
person interacts with another.
CQ emphasizes learned capabilities more than personality traits
Although it’s helpful to understand how our predisposed
personality inﬂuences our cross-cultural behavior (e.g., extro-
verts versus introverts) it can be paralyzing because personality
is difﬁcult to change. The emphasis of CQ, however, is on what
any leader can do to enhance cultural intelligence through
education, training, and experience. CQ is not ﬁxed; rather it
can develop and grow.
CQ is not culturally speciﬁc
. Finally, cultural intelligence is
not speciﬁc to a particular culture. The emphasis is not on
mastering all of the speciﬁc information and behavior needed
for individual cultures. Instead, CQ focuses on developing an
overall repertoire of understanding, skills, and behaviors for
making sense of the barrage of cultures we encounter daily.
The relevance of these distinctions of CQ will be elevated in
Chapter 2 in more thoroughly describing the cultural intelligence
model. Cultural intelligence offers leaders a realistic, practical skill
set to meet the demands of leadership in today’s fast-paced world.
Stop and look around you. How is culture shaping what’s there?
How is it shaping what you see? It is. I guarantee it. And the degree
to which you can see it and adapt accordingly is critical.
You Lead Across a Multicultural Terrain: Why CQ?
I’m sitting in an airport right now. For a split second, I forgot
where I was. And the familiarity of the scene around me did little to
help. The Body Shop is right in front of me, the Disney Store is to
my left, Starbucks is to my right, and the huge duty free shopping
store is just around the corner. The guy next to me is typing away
furiously on a Dell laptop. It’s easy to see the familiar airport totem
poles in Sydney, Sao Paulo, London, Hong Kong, Orlando, and
Johannesburg and believe the world is ﬂat in every way. In part, it
is. You can order your grande, triple-shot, nonfat, vanilla, no-foam
Starbucks latte in more than twenty-ﬁve countries of the world.
And endless competitors offer their own versions of the same drink
in many more places. But beware of thinking the same negotiating
skills, sense of humor, and motivational techniques can be used in-
discriminately with everyone and everywhere.
Leading in the twenty-ﬁrst-century world means maneuvering
the twists and turns of a multidimensional world. The continually
shifting landscape of global leadership can be disorienting; experi-
ence and intuition alone are not enough. But cultural intelligence
offers a way through the maze that’s not only effective but also in-
vigorating and fulﬁlling. Join a community of leaders across the
world who are acquiring cultural intelligence to tap into the oppor-
tunities and results of leading across our rapidly globalizing world.
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