Developing cultural intelligence is an interesting concept to develop very much like leadership and often it can just come from the gut. Like leadership qualities, some people exude charisma and others struggle in the long-term development of these qualities. What must be noted is that neither is wrong or right, just comes down to personal approach and how you work with it.
Recently, when interviewing a director of a company about Asia’s capabilities, they were stating that they love the culture, love the food, and love the places in Asia they used to go to for holiday. But when asking the questions relating to business, the answers fell short. Questions like, how many people on the board are from Asia, what is the business plan moving forward in the target market for Asia, and what areas of business have you considered adapting to the Asian cultural ways? These are crucial elements if wanting to have the right cultural intelligence in your business to have.
Firstly, it is a learned behaviour like leadership, practised over time by watching and learning. Toddlers, when they are developing, they are not leaders similarly they do also not have cultural intelligence. Therefore, it is something learned and developed through research and continuous development.
Is cultural intelligence like someone being culturally sensitive or culturally aware?
Someone who is culturally sensitive accepts those differences without insisting your own culture is better, while Cultural awareness is knowing that there are multiple different cultures – based on religion, ethnicity, nationality, and other factors (Sherman, 2019). On the other hand, you have cultural intelligence which is the ability to recognize and adapt to cultural differences (Livermore, 2022).
What is more important is what is the embodiment of Cultural intelligence of reoccurring instances of completing objectives regardless of the cultural setting or influence.
Some people come and ask well if I have strong Emotional Intelligence isn’t that the same as Cultural intelligence because it’s about understanding people?
Well not exactly, in some cases CQ lifts off where EQ finishes and this comes down to how CQ is measured. What aspects are measured in the Cultural Intelligence Scale (CQS) is Metacognition, Cognition, Motivational, and Behavioural (Gozzoli, 2018). Therefore, being able to deal with differences, is not only an opportunity for personal and professional growth but also a resource for organizations themselves. In an organization, focusing on professionals’ CQS levels could be helpful to design and implement specific HR policies.
The Cultural Intelligence Centre based in the USA has come up with these core guiding measures for working and relating across cultures by measuring skills in four distinct areas (“Cultural Intelligence Assessment | Cultural Intelligence Centre”):
- CQ Drive: Level of interest, persistence, and confidence during multicultural interactions.
- CQ Knowledge: Understanding how cultures are similar and different.
- CQ Strategy: Awareness and ability to plan for multicultural interactions.
- CQ Action: Ability to adapt when relating and working in multicultural contexts.
What is most important when dealing with different cultures is to take these factors on board in your own development with your interactions. Having a higher want of understanding and obtain that knowledge, not just to scratching the surface along with finding ways to building a strategy with the ability to implement. These are the characteristics that businesses should look at when dealing internationally or seeking to expand overseas.