February 10, 2016
Are you aware of the organizational benefits of having high cultural intelligence? David Livermore is President of the Cultural Intelligence Center in East Lansing, Michigan, and has over 20 years’ experience in leadership positions with a variety of non-profit organizations around the world. This is an adaptation from his latest book Driven by Difference.
Cultural intelligence, or CQ, is the capability to relate and work effectively in culturally diverse situations.
Diversity is here to stay. And it’s going to continue to shape the way you operate internally and externally. Diversity by itself does not lead to better innovations. And many of the predominant diversity approaches miss the mark. But cultural intelligence is what makes the difference. The cultural intelligence of the individuals on a diverse team determines whether the team’s diversity promotes or deters innovation. When you’re involved in a situation characterized by cultural diversity, your CQ is the multiplying force that predicts whether you experience positive or negative benefits from diversity. Those with high CQ can manage the differences to come up with better solutions, while those with low CQ are continually frustrated when working with diverse colleagues and customers.
Your CQ predicts how you will perform when working in culturally diverse situations—whether living or traveling internationally, working on a project with culturally diverse colleagues or customers, or working across two different organizational cultures. Meanwhile, 90 percent of leading executives from 68 countries identify cross-cultural skills as one of the most important capabilities needed in remaining competitive. Therefore, the higher your CQ, the more likely you will outperform others, gain new opportunities, earn higher wages, and experience success working in the diverse, globalized context.
The most important ROI for organizations with culturally intelligent individuals is that companies are more likely to accomplish their mission in culturally diverse situations. When CQ levels are low, diverse teams underperform homogeneous teams. But when CQ levels are high, diverse teams outperform homogeneous teams on several measurements: productivity, employee engagement, profitability, innovation, etc. More specifically, organizations that have employees with high CQ can expect:
Maintaining a high level of cultural intelligence will optimize work performance and allow your organization to operate more effectively in a global economy. Make it a mission to coach your employees to easily adapt to cross-cultural experiences.