If IQ is a measure of intelligence, EQ a measure of emotional intelligence, then what is CQ? In each of these cases, the Q stands for quotient, which means a measure or degree of that characteristic. The Cultural Intelligence Center defines CQ as, “the capability to relate and work effectively in culturally diverse situations. It goes beyond existing notions of cultural sensitivity and awareness to highlight a theoretically-based set of capabilities needed to successfully and respectfully accomplish your objectives in culturally diverse settings.” Companies are becoming more culturally diverse, and that means leaders must adapt.
If leaders have positions where they have considerable involvement with foreign cultures, it is critical that they truly understand that culture. It is not enough to just read about cultures. It may be challenging to determine a level of CQ. To be a cultural master is different from being culturally competent according to Ricardo Gonzales at Bilingual America. To develop a level of mastery is a journey. Leaders continue to develop.
Some important skills to develop to have true cross-cultural awareness may include things associated with EQ, such as adaptability and empathy. Just like EQ, CQ can be developed. One way to do this is through experiential learning. Immersing oneself into a culture can be challenging. However, it may be helpful to develop a true understanding of cultural norms.
Leaders may work with people in foreign cultures and have little appreciation for what is embraced in that society. It may be important to know about their favorite sports, their appreciation for different artists, musicians, etc. Some leaders may know historical information, but not truly be mindful of what is popular, or what employees hold dear. To connect with others at a cultural level, leaders need to dig deeper and strive to have a greater understanding of those things that give the people with whom they connect meaning. This has been referred to as cultural metacognition or cultural mindfulness.
It may be important for leaders to work on their cultural mindfulness. To do this, it may help to consider past successful and unsuccessful interactions. Echo Yuan Liao of IESE Business School explained that in addition to reflecting, paying attention to other people’s reactions can help as well. Bilingual America offers cultural training for help with interacting with the Latino culture. This may be helpful to all levels of leaders and managers who manage Latino workers.
As organizations grow into emerging markets, increasing their CQ becomes paramount to their success. The Cultural Intelligence Center found, “Fortune 500 companies expect that their greatest revenue streams over the next decade will come from emerging markets, and top universities are recruiting students from around the world and from groups previously underrepresented on campus. Organizations with culturally intelligent students and staff are more likely to accomplish their mission in today’s multicultural, globalized world.” Those leaders who have the foresight to embrace the importance of CQ will benefit, just as those who have embraced the importance of EQ.
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