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Developing Your Cultural Intelligence -THE CULTURALLY INTELLIGENT LEADER - PART 7

This is the last article in the 7-part series on Culturally Intelligent Leadership.

How Culturally Intelligent are You?

This basic, high-level exercise has been created to introduce the concept of Cultural Intelligence (“CQ”) and raise awareness of some of the conceptual elements of Cultural Intelligence.

The framework highlights some of the important strategy, knowledge, motivations and finally behaviours and actions required to develop one’s personal cultural intelligence.

In Part-6, we outlined a basic model of Cultural Intelligence (Ang & van Dyne), and in this particular article we explore some instances of CQ in action using a simple scale of:

  • High CQ,

  • Medium CQ, and

  • Levels of CQ that require more attention.

(This in no way, is intended to be a detailed, in-depth account).

As previously discussed, the development of Cultural Intelligence - like any other type of intelligence, requires:

  • Strategy

  • Knowledge

  • Motivation, and finally

  • Behaviour/Action

While these examples primarily focuses on interacting with people at the macro-culture level, the reader is encouraged to consider how it may apply in an organisational culture setting too.

CQ Strategy

High CQ

Awareness: Understands the impact of personal cultural heritage on worldview, on self & others.

Planning: Develops a strategy / plans ahead to familiarise oneself ahead of cross-cultural engagement.

Openness: Re-evaluates and adjusts existing assumptions / heuristics based on actual cultural experiences.

Medium CQ

Awareness: Able to articulate the features & dimensions of personal culture.

Planning: Possesses awareness of cultural practices based on previous experiences and hearsay of culturally similar others.

Openness: Generally listens to others prior to making decisions that impact cross-cultural teams; passing curiosity of the way others view the world.

CQ Requires Attention

Awareness: Unaware of the connection between cultural heritage & decisions, behaviour and worldview.

Planning: Does not recognise the need to consider the culture of others in being an effective leader.

Openness: Often finds oneself explaining & comparing how things are done ‘back in my country’; takes pride in simply enforcing company policy regardless of cultural impact.

CQ Knowledge

High CQ

Business: Knowledge of local consumer behaviour, economic systems and regulatory attitudes.

Interpersonal: Understands the importance of certain values, social etiquette and religious systems; actively seeks intercultural friendship.

Socio-linguistic: Practices mirroring of verbal and non-verbal communication styles; aware of linguistic faux pas.

Medium CQ

Business: Tends to contextualise local commercial information against existing home country framework.

Interpersonal: Generally possess enough social knowledge and decorum to be polite across cultures; usually limits intercultural relationships to the workplace.

Socio-linguistic: Acts on the basis of what one has been told or by how one has behaved in the past provided interactions were cordial.

CQ Requires Attention

Business: Flies blind with very little knowledge of local business norms; adopts a ‘my-way-or-the-highway’ leadership style

Interpersonal: Tends to be socially awkward in cross-cultural situations; lacks ability to temper culturally inappropriate discourse; often leaves others feeling embarrassed.

Socio-linguistic: Unaware of what an appropriate communication style entails; fails to watch others and assimilate behaviours of others.

CQ Motivation/Drive

High CQ

Intrinsic: Derives genuine enjoyment from, so actively seeks out, immersive culturally diverse experiences.

Extrinsic: Appreciates the benefits and the learning opportunity of culturally diverse exposure. Understands the power of others to teach them.

Self-efficacy: Possesses the confidence to immerse oneself in any cross-cultural situation.

Medium CQ

Intrinsic: Stops at superficial cultural experiences – eating at thematic restaurants, attending tourist ‘cultural experiences’.

Extrinsic: While curious about the culture of others, maintains an air of superiority of their culture over that of others.

Self-efficacy: Tend to congregate around ‘like-minded’ people with brief forays into individual cross-cultural encounters.

CQ Requires Attention

Intrinsic: Has little interest or desire to travel – both professionally and socially; actively avoids any intercultural experiences; stays in hotel on business trips.

Extrinsic: Has little interest in the cultural practices and norms of others. Spends a great deal of time and effort self-identifying with the ‘greatness’ of their personal cultural heritage

Self-efficacy: Have little confidence, often expressed as having no desire, to engage with people of a different cultural heritage. Often becomes defensive in multi-cultural situations.

CQ Behaviour/Action

High CQ

Non-verbal: Able to modify non-verbal behaviours; respects and assimilates local customs and gestures.

Verbal: Accepts and accommodates diverse accents, tones without being patronising.

Customs: Possesses the ability to adapt to cultural protocol – space, greeting, observing etc.

Medium CQ

Non-verbal: Despite attempting to showing genuine respect, may display inappropriate non-verbal displays through dress, incorrect seating positions etc.

Verbal: Favours measured socially acceptable workplace language – though expect the use of the odd patronising word.

Customs: Generally respectful and emotionally mature enough to appreciate social cues in most culturally diverse situations.

CQ Requires Attention

Non-verbal: Tends to display culturally inappropriate non-verbal behaviours; interacts with senior counterparts with too much familiarity.

Verbal: Speaks in heavily modified accent in rather simplistic English – as one would speak to a child.

Customs: Speaks out of turn, unfamiliar with social protocol such as handshakes, sitting position and culturally sensitive topics of discussion.


In this series we have explored various models of culture both on a macro-, and at the organisational level.

The intention was to introduce the reader to concepts of culture; and to create awareness of how culture manifests - in our personal, work, and social lives.

Finally, Part-6 and Part-7, introduce the reader to concepts of Cultural Intelligence, or CQ, by providing some examples of cultural interaction. Further, we explored the development of cultural intelligence skills, by outlining a framework that allows one to take a systematic approach to enhancing our personal inter-cultural effectiveness.

Part-6 contains a list of reference materials used in the series, and more detailed further reading for those who may wish to explore this topic further.

© 2018 by GIG Culture.

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