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CQ and building Intercultural Competence

Intercultural competence is the capability to function effectively across various cultural contexts (national, ethnic, organizational, generational, etc.) [1].

It is therefore not only the knowledge we gain from cross-cultural encounters that happen when we travel or eat in a restaurant that offers another culture’s food. It’s not only the cultural values that the cross-cultural management literature indicates. It’s not only the ability to be able to talk with anyone from any culture. It’s the collection of all of this plus the motivation to grow your own awareness of your biases, communication, and behavior during these encounters.

I attended the Cultural Intelligence (CQ) Advanced Certification (CCA) with Dr. David Livermore from the Center of Cultural Intelligence (CQC) in Chicago in May after researching the material they have and the evidence behind it. CQ has been around for quite a while and has gained credibility over the years through its rigorous and reliable methods of assessment of over 60.000 plus individuals internationally. The assessment is tested over and over again and the findings reveal more data every year which contributes to a better understanding of how human behavior and attitudes change as they work on the specific CQ components.

CQ is widely used in higher education MBAs and study abroad programs. The students take the assessment and are coached, trained and coached again over a 4-6 months’ period with a focus on developing personal awareness, knowledge, cultural strategy and behaviors in the form of verbal and nonverbal communication. The universities that have been conducting the program through CQC are in the process of evaluating the findings but they reported higher CQ after the introduction of the program so far. This is very promising in bridging the gap in education between theory and practice where most of the graduating students lack good communication skills and the ability to read the culture even in the same organization domestically let alone internationally.

Business organizations looking to enhance team performance are high on the list of clients. The assessment and training bring an understanding of what cultural values individuals in a team hold and how they can be communicated with other team members so as to shorten the length of the communication cycle and reach business goals faster. This gets even better when we introduce CQ assessment and training to organizations that function in different geographical locations or have multicultural teams. Coaching is one other powerful tool that supports such a transformation.

A study showed that of 100 companies that adopted CQ assessment and training, 92% had increased revenues within 18 months. Executives at every one of them credited cultural intelligence as a significant contributor to those increased revenues, which in some cases were up by almost 100%. Also, companies that worked to enhance their leaders’ CQs expanded internationally faster and became more successful at attracting and retaining top talent[2].

CQ in social enterprises and non-profit organizations works in the same way, facilitating the dialogue between faiths, immigrant cultures, and underprivileged minorities. In essence, the model works on the following four capabilities[3]. When you think about how it relates to leadership. It actually addresses the interpersonal leadership core where you examine your own vision and motivation. It also addresses your interpersonal leadership level of interaction with others around you. The more you work and get coached on CQ the more Emotional Intelligence (EQ) you develop in relation to yourself and others. EQ addresses your noble goal and motivation. It also addresses your ability to navigate your own emotions and how it leads your life choices. Moreover, it helps you understand what people are feeling and makes you more empathetic. Being an EQ Assessor and a CQ CCA is very powerful indeed. I feel I have such an in-depth understanding of how people feel and think and react, alongside an intercultural twist.

[1] Soon Ang and Linn Van Dyne, 2008. Conceptualization of Cultural Intelligence, in Handbook of Cultural Intelligence: Theory, Measurement, and Applications (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2008), 3.

[2] David Livermore, 2016. CQ: The Test of Your Potential for Cross-Cultural Success.

[3] David Livermore, 2017. Level 2 intercultural training course. Chicago.