What is Cultural Intelligence and Why Should You Care?

cultural intelligence, Fun Team Building with Larry Lipman, CQ

How Do You Rate with Cultural Intelligence?


In order to relate to others there are many kinds for intelligence that come into play. In our May blog “Does Emotional Intelligence Trump Intellectual Quotient?” we explained the importance of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) which is the practice of self-awareness in order to be more in-tune to other people’s emotions and reactions. EQ goes beyond general knowledge based “intelligence” or IQ. As a result, EQ enables a more well-rounded human interaction.


However, in our technologically savvy society, borders are crossed both physically and virtually everyday. IQ and EQ are not enough to be successful, especially if you work for an international corporation. This is why organizations must seek and nurture another type of intelligence; Cultural Intelligence (CQ).

The 4 Measurements of CQ

Cultural intelligence is the ability to relate and work effectively in culturally diverse situations. It enables managers and employees from different backgrounds to interact more effectively.


Management Issues says there are 4 capabilities that are used to measure cultural intelligence:

  1. Drive; interest, drive and confidence to adapt to multicultural situations
  2. Knowledge; understanding about how cultures are similar and different
  3. Action; ability to adapt when relating and working interculturally
  4. Strategy; awareness and ability to plan for multicultural differences

They use an online assessment test to measure the level of CQ in each of these areas.


An individual’s CQ is becoming directly related to how successful they will be in a particular position within an organization. Over the last five years, companies have predicted performance by an individual’s CQ. For example, if a person scores high in CQ Drive and CQ Action, it is expected the employee will perform well when encountering individuals with an unfamiliar cultural background. This is useful to cultivate the best team for a specific acquisition/merger in a new country.  On the other hand, if a person scores high for CQ Knowledge and CQ Strategy, this individual will be successful when the interaction is not as direct. This could be helpful when choosing the best team for the development of products for culturally diverse users.


Why CQ is Important

Fortune 500 companies look to emerging markets to increase revenue stream according to the Cultural Intelligence Center. Emerging markets are an important when it comes to CQ because emerging markets usually mean doing business within a different culture. In fact, according to SHRM, a recent survey completed by the Economist Intelligence Unit found 90% of executives from 68 countries cite ‘cross-cultural management’ as their top challenge. This is a key factor to consider when growing your company.


Here is a good example of a cultural difference most Americans most likely do not know. According to AFAR Magazine, locals in Bulgaria shake their heads for yes and nod for no. Did you know that cultural difference? I didn’t, in fact it would never have crossed my mind. To me this is a great example why CQ is important.


Overall individuals with high CQ are seen as assets with better communication skills, problem solving abilities and the ability to be a team player. You can say that cultural intelligence is like emotional intelligence, but with a cultural layer. If you are an emotionally intelligent person working with someone from the same culture, the social norms (i.e. speech patterns, sense of humor, physical gestures) are the same and CQ won’t be a factor according to Inc Magazine. However, in this global economy where continued success relies on expanding outside your borders, cultural intelligence essential.


Need Help with Cultural Intelligence?

Larry Lipman of Fun Team Building has been working with organizations for over 20 years. Contact Larry to help your team discover how to grow cultural intelligence through problem solving games and leadership activities for your company. To learn more and schedule training call Larry at 770-333-3303 today!

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