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Poles apart

An exercise exploring how to continue developing Cultural Intelligence beyond the course
© Julia Middleton
We can’t analyse our own Cultural Intelligence. We have to ask other people to help. People who know or work with us, and who will tell us the truth.
Identify up to 4 people who will have an open and honest conversation with you.
Here are some examples of people that you could ask
  • a leader from a different generation, at least 20 years older or younger than you.
  • a leader whose perspective will come from a place over 7,000 km from you.
  • a leader with a different faith from you.
  • a leader who works in a different sector from you (public, private or NGO).
  • a leader born with different perceived prospects from you.
  • a leader who isn’t your gender.
  • a leader who has different politics from you.
  • a leader with significantly less or more experience of disability than you.
Select 5 of the following 16 questions to ask them and then listen carefully to their answers (both what they say, and what they don’t say). The questions are also available to download at the bottom of the page.
The 16 questions
  1. Do you think I am interested in other cultures?
  2. Do you think I have many friends or colleagues who are like me?
  3. Have you ever seen me stumble in a new culture?
  4. Who do you think I feel very comfortable being with (choose as many as you like): * public/private/NGO sectors * own generation/people younger than them/people older than them * people of same faith/ people of any faith/people with no faith * people of same politics/people of different politics/people of no politics * people from own country/people from own continent/people from any continent men/women/people of different sexual orientation * able-bodied/disabled
  5. You are going to a difficult meeting involving people with whom you have a lot in common. Would you confidently take me along with you, knowing that I will be in a minority of one?
  6. Have you ever sensed me pull back when meeting people?
  7. Do you think I would say something if I came across cultural intolerance?
  8. Have you ever seen me recover well from a situation involving someone very different which at first I misjudged?
  9. Am I actively interested in the views and ideas of people who are very different?
  10. Have you seen me show an interest in people who are very different increase or decrease over time?
  11. Would you describe me as someone who is open to ‘courageous conversations’?
  12. Do you think I reveal enough of myself to others?
  13. Would you describe me as confident about my own beliefs, values and behaviours?
  14. Do I take time to understand etiquette, and mostly get it right?
  15. Have you ever seen me impose my own culture on others?
  16. Has knowing me increased your own CQ?
What was the most and least surprising thing you took away from this exercise?
Once you have completed this exercise report back what you have found in the comments section below.
© Julia Middleton
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Developing Cultural Intelligence for Leadership

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