Cultural intelligence is the “capability to function effectively across national, ethnic and organizational cultures.” (Livermore, 2010, p. 4). In developing a cultural intelligence (CQ) personal development plan, I will need to take an inventory of who I am, what my professional aspirations are and the type of leader I want to become.
As a lead master program assistant for a government agency, I often modify my approach in how I conduct crucial conversations due to the complexity and diversity of the colleagues with whom I interact. Therefore, knowledge of diverse cultures and the appropriate way to communicate with team members is extremely important. Armed with this information my goal is to utilize what I have learned to become an effective leader and colleague in the area of CQ.
I have heard that forty is the new thirty and fifty is the new forty. While I do not know how true that is, I am convinced that CQ is the new IQ as the world becomes more globalized. To be a successful leader in this globalized society the position of understanding various cultures is extremely important. Developing a robust and refined CQ personal development plan using best practices is essential. Therefore, I will be utilizing the four-dimensional model of cultural intelligence from David Livermore’s book, Leading with Cultural Intelligence: The New Secret to Success. The four dimensions are CQ drive, CQ knowledge, CQ strategy, and CQ action. (Livermore, 2010, p. 25). I will explain and present my drive, knowledge, strategy and the actions I will take on my journey toward cultural intelligence.
While in the Marines, I had an amazing opportunity to spend a significant amount of time in Okinawa, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Kabul, Kandahar and Abu Dabbi in Dubai. I also entertained the idea of taking a position in Cuba for one year. These experiences have had a profound effect not only on my life, but also my desire to engage in cross cultural work. “Drive is one of the key components to CQ. It is your interest, motivation and confidence to adapt to a multicultural situation. It consists of intrinsic and extrinsic interests and the drive to learn and understand different cultures, their norms and behaviours.” I am naturally extroverted and with my military training exceptionally conscientious.
I have the confidence and desire to work with and lead others who are culturally different from myself. I find it very exciting and energizing to discover and learn about cultures I have not yet experienced. As a team leader of a diverse group of individuals to be successful I must increase my CQ level. I am interested in working abroad again in the future. Being a successful multicultural leader here in the US will increase my opportunities to represent my organization. Being identified as a person who understands the importance of CQ could increase my chances of being promoted to an area abroad that aligns with my career passions and goals.
“The research demonstrates that organizations and leaders who prioritize cultural intelligence are more likely to accomplish their mission.” (Livermore, 2010, p. 164). I plan on taking the opportunity now to work on and refine my cultural intelligence in my current position. One of the first items on my CQ personal development plan is to take the step of researching the various cultures within my team. When conducting my one on one sessions with my team members I would like to meet with them outside the office at café or restaurant that serves ethnic food from their culture.
I will strive to get to know them and their culture to not only be a better leader but to also put the stereotypes and bias I have in check. This will also provide an opportunity for me to introduce cross cultural sensitivity to other team members. I have a genuine interest in getting to know my employees and learning about their culture in an intimate way. One of my long term goals in becoming CQ is the opportunity to expand my global networks.
I have come in contact with many people around the world and would like to have an opportunity to do business with them. Having the skill of cultural intelligence is also a way to be part of the greater good. My parents founded and ran a non-profit organization for years. Therefore, giving back to humanity is always front of mind. I look for ways that I can give back. I believe once I am able to successfully maneuver in reaching across cultural barriers I will be able to network and collaborate with those of other cultures and have a greater impact in serving humanity.
Along with having a genuine desire to impact other cultures in a meaningful way, I also want to set aside any of my cultural bias and understand differences among various cultures. I believe this is the most difficult of the four components. That said, part of my CQ personal plan is the understand various cultures and cultural differences. A person’s cultural identity is vibrant and multifaceted. It is shaped over a lifetime by various influences, including family, peers, news outlets, education, and travel.
Knowing this, I will need to work on seeing things from a cultural perspective not driven by my own experiences. Not judging things or situation based on my lens or culture is necessary. I realize how difficult it is to put one’s own experience, expectations, and family orientation aside and really hone in on the people from other cultures see and do things. I believe it is significant to be aware that the world does not revolve around my cultural experiences.
As a child, I remember my mother telling me that I needed to use my filters and that the world does not revolve around me. I sometimes struggle with that today because I was always told to tell the truth. I never meant to hurt anyone’s feelings in being honest. I have found that my mother was right. If you do not have something nice to say, perhaps saying nothing is more expedient. I have also found that the world truly does not revolve around me, not even close.
That lesson is important when understanding diverse cultures. My desire is to use the discipline I gained in my military training to assist me with my mission toward cultural intelligence. As a leader, I need to be aware of the cultural difference of my team and be able to understand how to consistently communicate respectful and culturally correct manner. If I can understand the underlying rules and unspoken body language I believe that will make a considerable difference in my success in become CQ. My goal is to without bias step into this multicultural world from their lens and be able to genuinely appreciate and celebrate the norms ideas and way of life. I trust that ability will be quite valuable to by CQ growth.
I know I will need to keep my judgements and assumptions in check, which may be easier said than done but I will remain optimistic in this endeavor. However, if I do not understand how culture affects me and my teams’ behavior, I will only see the world through my own cultural lens. For my CQ personal development plan I am committed to working diligently on overcoming my cultural blind spots. I have taken several assessments regarding my personal cultural bias and find that this is definitely an area of opportunity for me.
In addition, I would like to use my understanding of the CQ knowledge component to better understand and predict the responses of my team to lesson or eliminate misunderstanding or worry when I am interacting with my team. I may even dabble in learning a new language and include my family in the process. At the top of my list of other activities I plan to engage in is reading an international book and subscribing to international news organization that is not US based.
Next in my CQ personal development plan is CQ strategy. This will give me an
opportunity to put into action what I have learned about cultural intelligence and hopefully turn off my cultural auto pilot. I need to be mindful of my team and really pay attention to the cultural cues both spoken and unspoken that I would like to understand. I will incorporate reaching out to people from other cultural groups and get to know them.
With CQ strategy I will need to make sure that I am not expecting team members to assimilate but embrace the desire they may have for their cultural influences to be highlighted. I will need to fully let go of my bias and stereotypes and encourage this with admiration, kindness and acceptance. My wife is from Barbados and thankfully has not totally assimilated to US culture. Many times when I travel with her back to her native country I have to make some adjustments.
I have to plan on how I will greet relatives I may have not previously met, I also need to make sure I am not flexing too much as to come across as unauthentic. I also constantly check to make sure I am understanding communications with the family in the proper way. “CQ Strategy includes planning, awareness, and checking. Planning involves drawing on CQ Knowledge to anticipate and respond to cultural differences. Awareness involves being consciously alert and mentally flexible during diverse exchanges. Checking involves reflecting on the accuracy of your assumptions, interpretations, and predictions, and then adjusting these to take account of new information.” (Include-Empower.com, June, 2018).
Lastly, is CQ action. While I am extroverted I will need to be very careful with my interactions with people from cultures other than my own. “Leaders with high CQs understand how to encounter new cultural situations, judge what goes on in them and make appropriate adjustments to understand and behave effectively in those otherwise disorienting circumstances.” (Forbes, 2010).
The challenge with this is that something said or a gesture made within my cultural could be totally acceptable but could be seen as rude arrogant or disrespectful in another culture. Due to my having challenges with my “filter” in the past I will need to listen, observe more change my thinking and adjust my behaviors to get the best results in cross-cultural situations. I have a colleague from another county that I plan to attend their place of worship and a birthday party.
This will afford me an opportunity to observe and make culture connections. This could also be a way to gain general knowledge about an unfamiliar culture and be a small start to reaching out to people from another cultural groups and get to know them. This will give me an opportunity to see how they communicate and interact with one another, which can guide me in modifying my speech and behaviors.
When developing a CQ-PDP a person should begin with a self-assessment and allow the results to be an opportunity for self-reflection. To become culturally intelligent one will need the desire and confidence to interact with others who are culturally different along with the skill to understand and capability to relate and work effectively in culturally diverse situations. There are times when seeing ourselves as others see us can be difficult. Due to the importance, significance and sensitivity of cross cultural interactions is it crucial to know our own biases, judgements and discriminations.
Also understanding and utilizing the four dimensions of cultural intelligence CQ drive, CQ knowledge, CQ strategy, and CQ action could significantly increase one’s cultural intelligence. Putting those info practical use is important and remember to challenge stereotypes and that small adjustments in behavior can deliver a significant positive result. Challenge stereotypes – positive or negative. Rome was not build in a day so cultural intelligence will be a continual work in process so do not become discouraged in your journey toward CQ.