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Archive for February, 2010

Cultural Intelligence

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Recently, I began reading Dr. David Livermore’s book Leading with Cultural Intelligence.  I’m crazy for this book because of all the insights about cultural intelligence, or CQ.  In our increasingly global economy, leaders are faced with more and more cultural diversity in the workplace.  I think this is a beautiful thing, and I’m sure most leaders do too!  Diversity in the workplace means there is an opportunity for increased creativity, new perspectives, and a much-needed challenge to the status-quo.  At the same time, the need to be culturally intelligent is just one more thing to add to the list of leader “to-dos,” and it can feel a bit daunting.  That’s what’s really great about this book.  It offers specific and attainable approaches to increasing  your CQ.

Approaching  the challenge with sense of curiosity and wonder can make it seem less like a challenge and more like an adventure.  Okay, I admit, as a Myers-Briggs type ENFP that’s how I look at most things.  Nonetheless, there is something exciting about discovering new cultures that most everyone can appreciate.  As Dr. Livermore points out in the book, it’s not necessary (nor possible) to master all the norms and values of every culture.  However, effective leadership in today’s culturally diverse environment means:

  • Understanding diverse customers,
  • Managing diverse teams,
  • Recruiting and developing cross-cultural talent,
  • Adapting leadership style, and
  • Demonstrating respect.

In future blogs, I’m going to explore the concept of cultural intelligence in more detail.  I want to tap into my network of global business partners and gather some specific examples of how cultural intelligence improves a leader’s ability to achieve results.  In the short term, I’m going to study a bit about Culture and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).  In my recent certification course, I learned that the MBTI has been translated into at least 20 languages.  What that tells us, of-course, is that psychological type is universal.  But, what’s key is how type is influenced by culture and how those influences shape how type is expressed.  Understanding cultural type differences can be another key learning for leaders in the quest for CQ.

In the meantime, let me know if you have any recommendations for research or resources on cultural intelligence.  I welcome your suggestions.


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Posted In: Cultural Intelligence, Leadership, MBTI
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The Shadow of a Leader

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

A few days ago, I had to pick up a print job at my neighborhood FedEx Kinkos.  The place was jammed with customers, and everyone was hoppin’.  That included the store manager, who was a complete stress case.  He was tight-faced, tight-lipped, and curt with customers and his team.  He wasn’t rude . . . he was just going through the motions.  And, as I noticed, so was everyone on his team.  No one smiled.  No one said “please” or “thank-you.”  Everyone was just moving people through the line with as little personality as possible.  You’ve heard it before:  “I can help the next person.”  Sub-text:  “I can help the next person, but I don’t really want to.”

The scene reminded me of some great leadership development content I learned from the Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group years ago.  I’ve used a lot over the years, and it never gets old.  It’s called “The Shadow of a Leader.”  The idea is that leaders shape their cultures through a powerful combination of message aligned with action.  Through actions, attitudes and messages, they cast a shadow that influences everyone around them.  The shadow a leader casts may be strong and inspiring, or it may be weak and dispiriting, but it always exists.  It is a reflection of everything a leader says and does. 

So, as I watched the FedEx Kinkos team, I noticed they were following their leader, doing as he did, matching his actions and attitude.  Without knowing it, he was setting a powerful example and casting a dispiriting shadow.  It’s that easy to do!  Leaders lead without knowing it.  All they have to do is be themselves, and walk their own talk.  That’s the beauty of leadership, and it’s the burden of leadership.  Your actions speak loudly, and someone is always watching.

Managing your shadow as a leader is a simple matter of awareness and intent.  Here’s a three-step process for better understanding your shadow:

  1. Identify your shadow.  How do your actions, attitudes and messages influence the culture?
  2. Develop a shadow improvement plan.  Once you’ve identified your current shadow, focus on your strengths and figure out how you can use them to improve your shadow.
  3. Share your shadow.  Talk about this concept with your team, and ask them to help keep you on track and casting the shadow that positively influences the work culture.

As Warren Bennis once said, “A leader doesn’t just get the message across, a leader is the message.”

In gratitude for a great lesson learned from my local FedEx Kinkos manager,


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Posted In: Leadership, Organizational Culture
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Preparing for MBTI Certification

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

I’m preparing for my MBTI certification seminar the week of February 15th in San Francisco.  This is fascinating stuff.  For those of you who might not know, MBTI is the acronym for Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, an questionnaire developed to make Carl Jung’s threory of psychological types understandable and useful in everyday life.  Simply put, the results of the MBTI provide you with a multi-faceted picture of your unique psychological preferences.  Click here if you’d like to read a little bit more about the instrument and the research behind it.

The assessment identifies four different preferences: Extroversion – Introversion, Sensing-INtuition, Thinking-Feeling, and Judging-Perceiving.  The first scale, E – I, identifies where you prefer to focus your attention: outward or inward.  The second, S – N, identifies how you prefer to take in information.  The third, T – F identifies how you make decisions.  Finally, the fourth, J-P, identifies how you deal with the outer world.

What I appreciate about this work is that it sheds light on the different gifts we bring to a group.  Each of us has unique behavioral styles that when matched with other styles makes our world dynamic and interesting.

Those of you who know me well, already know that my preferences are ENFP.  I  prefer to focus on people and activity (E), take in information by seeing the big picture (N), use my feelings in decision making (F), and live in a flexible, spontaneous way (P).  People with ENFP preferences are generally believed to “see life as full of possibilities”.  That’s me!  And, that’s how BWR Consulting approaches work with clients.  We look for what is possible instead of what is wrong.

There’s a lot to learn before my certification.  And, I’m really excited about how, once certified, I can help clients understand their preferences in order to achieve even better results.  I’ll keep you posted on the process, and let you know what I learn.

With appreciation,


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Posted In: Behavioral Styles
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