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Skip to 0 minutes and 1 second In an increasingly Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous world– or what we call a VUCA World– it’s more and more apparent that the leaders that don’t understand the context in which they operate are doomed to fail. And increasingly those that are succeeding the most are those people that can connect the dots above and beyond themselves, into the context around them. And actually into the society and even the world around them, in a way that is actually innovative and game-changing.

Skip to 0 minutes and 30 seconds Not only in business, but in societal leadership overall. In the corporations that I’ve worked in, and other corporations that I respect, they’re increasingly exposing their leaders to systemic thinking– systems thinking. In an effort to try and give people the curiosity, the skills, the understanding, and even the science behind– how do you assemble the larger picture. And Cultural Intelligence is in many ways an expression of that. It’s the outer layer beyond personal leadership and beyond emotional intelligence, to the much larger environment around. It’s about inclusion. It’s about innovation. It’s about the assembly of wider intellect and diverse ideas, which is the defining element in leadership success in today’s world.

A need for Cultural Intelligence

Cultural Intelligence (CQ) has found its moment. This is not about theories of leadership, but the realities of how leaders need to adapt in the modern world. In the video above Jonathan Donner, Strategic Advisor and Chief, Capability Development Branch, at United Nations World Food Programme discusses why he thinks Cultural Intelligence is needed in the modern world.

Changes are taking place globally that call for leaders with Cultural Intelligence.

Here are the 8 key reasons why:

1. The need for collaboration

Big problems can no longer – if they ever could – be solved by one person, one sector, one culture, one community, one country or even one continent operating alone. Leading across boundaries through collaboration is increasingly crucial.

2. The reality of networks

The world is becoming more connected. Organisations are becoming flatter and social networks are burgeoning as never before. Leaders must build and leverage networks in order to deal with this new inter-connectivity and capitalise on the opportunities presented.

3. The importance of trust

People buy brands they trust, listen to sources they trust and choose to follow leaders they trust. It can take a long time to build trust and it can be taken away even faster. It is up to leaders to make good decisions, to behave consistently and appropriately, and to build up a record of doing so over time. It’s one thing doing this in our own culture or sector, where the reference points for trust will be familiar on all sides. It’s much harder to establish our own trustworthiness with people whose frame of reference is very different.

4. The demands of demographics

Relationships between generations are becoming increasingly disconnected, right across the world. There is a requirement to cross generational divides for both young and old alike.

5. The urban magnet

People around the world are moving to cities as never before. These cities are not just growing in size; they are (or are fast becoming) magnets of talent, bringing together people from multiple backgrounds and different cultures.

6. The pressure to focus

The leadership journey looks very much like an hourglass. As our career progresses, we become more and more knowledgeable in a smaller and smaller field. Suddenly, we get that next promotion when we need a broader view again and nothing has prepared us for it. As leaders gain more influence and responsibility they need a wider perspective – at the very moment when everything and everyone else is pressing us to focus.

7. Growing world, shrinking leaders

The number of people with global roles is multiplying. They travel almost constantly and they touch down frequently. They are expected to deliver wherever they land, and deliver fast. They must be able to adapt a framework that helps them to deliver.

8. The spark of innovation

Everyone is crying out for innovation: new ways, new ideas, new processes, new technologies, and new ventures. Innovation will not come from working with people who think like we do, or who operate in the same way, or in the same space. It comes from diverse groups – led by leaders with Cultural Intelligence – who see things differently. With diverse perspectives they take ideas and turn them on their heads, and, in the process, they break out of ‘group-think’ – to create something genuinely new.

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This video is from the free online course:

Developing Cultural Intelligence for Leadership

Common Purpose