Why Cultural Intelligence?
Cultural Intelligence has important advantages over other approaches to diversity competence:
Cultural Intelligence extends prior models of intercultural competence. Earlier approaches focused on understanding cultural differences or superficial changes in behavior. The four-competency model of Cultural Intelligence includes higher-level thinking skills needed for intercultural problem solving as well as an individual’s interest and persistence in diverse settings, including the competencies needed to overcome explicit or unconscious bias.
Traditional cultural training relied on lists of country-specific do’s and don’ts with the goal of preparing expatriates for success in a single, dominant national culture. But this approach is inefficient and limited.
Context-specific cultural training does not align with the cultural complexities facing today’s employees. Both domestically and internationally, workers interact with individuals across varied cultural backgrounds and it impossible to prepare in advance for every intercultural encounter.
In addition, individuals can no longer be packaged into neat homogenous cultural groups. Global migration, education, work, and travel influence cultural identities in unpredictable ways over the course of a person’s life.
This complexity needs a new competency: today’s employees and leaders must be able to manage an infinite possibility of cultural identities.
Cultural Intelligence is not the capability for effectiveness in a particular culture. The Cultural Intelligence model is a unifying approach that helps a person manage any cultural setting, transcending national borders, and cultural stereotypes. The four competencies of Cultural Intelligence are generic skills that can be applied to manage any form of cultural diversity—national, gender, generational, ethnic, health status, sexual orientation, or other subcultures.
Cultural Intelligence is not a personality trait, nor is it something you are born with. Cultural Intelligence is developed through education, training, and experience. This malleability offers organizations an opportunity to create an enviable competitive advantage—a capacity for innovation and agility—to drive sustainable global growth.
The ability to learn is a better indicator of future performance than competencies measured at a specific point in time. In today’s turbulent business environment, the ability to learn has particular relevance.
We cannot predict who our colleagues, employees, leaders, customers, and suppliers will be tomorrow, nor how they will feel or behave over time. Culture is always changing. Relying on outdated generalizations may lead to confusion or failure.
As market conditions and technology change at unprecedented rates, organizations and employees need to be able to adapt. Cultural Intelligence equips individuals with the ability to learn and adapt in real-time to unpredictable change.
Cultural Intelligence can be reliably assessed at the individual or group level. The individual assessment provides employees with an evaluation of their Cultural Intelligence capabilities. This information is useful for setting development goals and tailoring coaching or training. Cultural Intelligence assessment is also helpful for selection and promotion decisions and for use in performance appraisals.
Group assessments highlight a workgroup’s collective intercultural strengths and weaknesses. This information is particularly valuable for multicultural teams.
Cultural Intelligence improves business performance and supports career advancement—but Cultural Intelligence also leads to tremendous personal growth. Individuals with high Cultural Intelligence are respectful and tolerant of differences, are less judgmental, and are more inclusive of others. They are open to new perspectives, ideas, and relationships.