Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the Common Purpose's online course, Developing Cultural Intelligence for Leadership. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 0 seconds Cultural Intelligence is the ability to cross divides and thrive in multiple cultures. We were all, I think, probably brought up to believe that IQ was the beginning and the end, the ability to analyse facts and information, and analyse them quickly and intelligently. And I think there came a moment where everybody began to realise that wasn’t enough, that you needed emotional intelligence, as well, the ability to understand people. My interest is that actually I think we’re going to make the next jump next.

Skip to 0 minutes and 30 seconds And I think it’s what will define the successful leaders of the future, the ability to have cultural intelligence, not just to have EQ, Emotional Intelligence, the ability to understand people, but CQ, the ability to understand and to lead people who aren’t like you. Now, they may be different from you because they’re in the West, and you’re in the East, or in the North and you’re in the South. Or it may be because you’re in the public or the private or the voluntary sector and have this tremendous ability to sort of cross each other in the night and have no idea what each other are doing.

Skip to 1 minute and 5 seconds If as leaders, and we all do, want to crack the really difficult problems for our organisations and for our societies, we’re going to have to be able to develop the cultural intelligence to be able to cross the boundaries, like the problems do, and solve them. The problems cross boundaries. Leaders have to cross boundaries. And that means that they’ve got to develop the cultural intelligence to be able to cross the boundaries and to thrive when they do so.

What is Cultural Intelligence?

Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is the natural evolution from the now well-established notions of Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Emotional Intelligence (EQ) - attached is some further reading on IQ and EQ.

Cultural Intelligence is an essential ingredient for leaders who recognise that they can no longer be, to quote John Donne, ‘an island, entire of itself’. After all, the ability to understand people, and – crucially – to be interested enough in people to want to learn to understand them, is an essential prerequisite to leading them.

Despite globalisation and the development of new technologies, the world is as complex as ever. Leaders from different cultures are finding that they need to work together even more. Crossing the divides between people in cities and, increasingly, across the world is the only way we can begin to address the big complex problems we face on a daily basis. Ask yourself:

  • Are IQ, EQ and CQ equally valued in the world?
  • What problems require only IQ to solve them?
  • What examples can you give of when EQ has not been enough to solve problems?

Cultural Intelligence is the ability to cross the divides that exist between people and thrive in multiple cultures. This also extends to the divides that exist between sectors, organisations, generations and all people who are different from us. Fundamentally, Cultural Intelligence is about understanding our own culture, what it means to us, and the multiple sub-cultures we belong to. It is also being fully aware of what makes us who we are, and how our culture influences the way we work with other people.

Cultural Intelligence is needed wherever cultures clash and problems go unsolved. It is about more than bridging national borders and developing our capability to operate globally. It is about crossing all kinds of cultural divides, learning to operate effectively in unfamiliar surroundings and finding a way to break down barriers that may well not be geographical at all.

Many of us look around the world and wonder at the problems we see. This is mostly the result of a failure to communicate, misinterpretation and misunderstanding. Particularly across cultures. There needs to be a desire and willingness to do things differently. Leaders need to manage this complexity and be prepared to articulate the issues in a way that brings people together and makes progress.

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Developing Cultural Intelligence for Leadership

Common Purpose