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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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