The Cultural Intelligence Centre based in Michigan defines cultural intelligence, or ‘CQ’, as “the capability to relate and work effectively in culturally diverse situations”. Increasingly organisations are recognising that they are more successful when they embrace cultural intelligence. High cultural intelligence brings insight, creativity and innovation to organisations’ solutions and enables them to expand quickly and effectively into diverse markets. High cultural intelligence also improves employee engagement.
Cultural Intelligence recognises that culture is much more than ethnicity. It includes all the things that help define people’s and organisations’ differences. These include but are not limited to generations, gender, belief systems, values, communication styles, processes and socio-economic backgrounds.
Culturally intelligent leaders are curious about diversity. They continually build their knowledge about the similarities and differences between the cultures they interact with and plan how they will operate in and adjust to multicultural situations. They may adapt some of their attitudes and behaviours as they work with other cultures, but they will not be compromised in doing so.
While improving cultural intelligence is the responsibility of the governance board, it requires the commitment of people at all levels of organisations. It involves being interested in ‘the other’ and their values, beliefs and actions. It could involve participating in unfamiliar situations to gain a different perspective. As social scientist David Livermore states, “culturally intelligent innovation begins with changing our impulse from Why can’t you see it like I do? to Help me see what I might be missing!” This change delivers much richness.
This article was first published in the Mercury Bay Informer of 3 April 2019. See www.theinformer.co.nz