Cultural Quotient: The new differentiator for a Successful Leader
Does an opportunity to work in a foreign land excite you ? Are you conscious of the sensitivities of your teammates with respect to their religion or backgrounds? If you are, then your chances of reaching the top of your organization is far more than if not. These traits, which are being sighted as the key differentiator between a good and a great leader, is your Cultural Quotient or CQ.
CQ measures the capability to function effectively in a variety of national, ethnic and organizational settings. It's a form of intelligence that has been tested by academic researchers in more than 30 countries over nearly a decade and coined the term to keep up with present age of globalization. CQ is similar to IQ and EQ in that it quantifies a set of capabilities believed to be important to both personal and professional success. It is unique in that it focuses specifically on the skills needed for success in unfamiliar cultures. Cultural intelligence is being described by experts as a core capability essential for success in 21st-century business and has attracted worldwide attention across diverse disciplines. Research has examined what gives rise to cultural intelligence and looked at testing strategies that may lead to enhanced CQ.
Now the world is shrinking into one global village where organizations are spreading their businesses beyond geographical borders. This means that resources need to be equipped to handle different cultures and perform well under diverse situations. Even if a position doesn't require any international travel, managers and HR departments are realizing the importance of having culturally savvy employees who can vigorously meet the challenges of serving a diverse customer base at home and abroad, as well as becoming effective participants of culturally diverse teams. In addition, employers are finding that personnel with high CQ are not only more effective cross-culturally but also are more adaptable and innovative as they go about tasks within their own cultural contexts.
Transformational training is a unique module that helps candidates develops their CQ in a way that enhances their professional performance. In our observation, these are some of job-related traits that work for better individuals with higher CQ:
Employees can be trained to 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. Such discernment is becoming more and more critical, for a country like India where government is inviting FDI in all sectors and also for successfully attaining 'Make in India' policy which will require cross-border negotiations, understanding new markets, unifying dispersed leadership teams and developing global marketing plans.
So we know and understand that CQ is important and it can be enhanced. The immediate question that arises, is how? As mentioned, it is certainly possible through effective training. Transformational training, for instance, begins by assessing that person in terms of four distinct CQ capabilities:
iii. CQ Strategy which is basically how the person makes sense of culturally diverse experiences. This comes into play when making judgments about one's own or others' thought processes and makes it easier to draft effective planning in the context of cultural differences
It is important to note that just as in the case of IQ and EQ, it is very important to have robust assessment techniques that give an objective evaluation of one's CQ abilities in order to gauge his development and progress. This is also the best way to ensure that the weaknesses can be turned into strengths over a period of time, through personalized training metaphors.
The author is India's first Transformational Training Designer and Chief Mentor of Viztar International Pvt Ltd.