TURN OFF THE CRUISE CONTROL: CQ STRATEGY
STEP 3: CQ STRATEGY: How should I plan?
Strategizing and making sense of culturally diverse experiences
Proﬁle of a leader
with high CQ
Leaders with high CQ strategy develop ways
to use cultural understanding to develop a
plan for new cross-cultural situations. These
leaders are better able to monitor, analyze,
and adjust their behaviors in different cultural
settings. They are conscious of what they need
to know about an unfamiliar culture.
Leading with Cultural Intelligence
I’m not interested in simply researching and writing about cultural
intelligence. I want to apply it to my own leadership practice. But
there are many times when I still appear culturally ignorant. For ex-
ample, my attempt to ﬁnd out whether Dr. Jones was a crook (see
Chapter 1) was rooted in my North American orientation toward
direct and explicit communication. I have little tolerance for dodg-
ing the elephant in the room and while I surely value diplomacy, at
the end of the day, my modus operandi is to address conﬂict directly.
When I arrived at the Monrovia airport, I was able to step back and
see that Tim, the Liberian American visiting for two weeks, and his
porter were missing each other. I could listen to the stories of my
breakfast companions’ mishaps with baby food and medical ship-
ments. But I failed to take the time to think about how my direct
name-the-elephant-in-the-room approach would work in Liberia.
If you had asked me about some of the values found in Liberian
culture, I could have quickly talked to you about the high level of
loyalty and commitment given to relationships. I think I could have
even described the value of saving face for a friend and colleague
above the value of providing accurate information to a stranger
from another country. But I failed to make use of my knowledge
to effectively accomplish what I needed — a clearer understanding
of whether we should partner with Dr. Jones and Madison College.
Only as I stepped back and reﬂected on what happened, combined
with Moses’s commentary, did I begin to better understand that I
was putting Dr. Harris in an impossible situation. The ability to
connect our cultural understanding with how we actually lead is
what we’re getting at with CQ strategy. This conversation could
have been more helpful if I had spent more time planning how to
approach Dr. Harris with a contentious issue.
The next day, Moses and I were with another Liberian who used
to teach at Madison College and consequently knew Dr. Jones, the
alleged embezzler. Having spent some time thinking through the
previous day’s interaction with Dr. Harris, I used a very different