“There is beauty and strength in diversity” – BBC News
We all know about IQ; some of us sales and marketing folks value EQ (Emotional Intelligence) soft skills more than IQ.
Not enough people understand the value of CQ (Cultural Intelligence), not to be confused with the Morse code used by wireless operators….although this might help enhance the CQ telepathy.!!
CQ Is an extension of EQ ; more like EQ 2.0 or EQ 360.
CQ in my view is being able to enjoy, appreciate, respect and seek to understand people from other backgrounds and cultures. This is increasingly important in the context of international business and even more so in fast growth start-ups that are going global at a phenomenal pace.
In Covid times, we might expect to achieve rapid results virtually from overseas co-workers under a Western orientated shareholder driven protocol. We might not be very patient when Asian, African, Arabic team members approach solving a problem in a completely novel way. Rather than viewing this as innovation, we might potentially become negatively judgemental.
One critical element that cultural intelligence and emotional intelligence do share is, in psychologist Daniel Goleman’s words, “a propensity to suspend judgment—to think before acting.”
CQ can be trained and companies can promote such behaviour with clear corporate mantras fostering cultural cohesiveness.
We do not always have the opportunity or time nowadays to get to know our counterparts over a cup of tea (peppermint in Morocco and green in South Korea)
Skilful CQ adoption might involve using your senses to register all the ways that the personalities interacting in front of you are different from those in your home culture yet similar to one another.
HBR published a more formulaic approach to CQ measurement below:
At Transaction Focus, we are a little less formulaic than HBR and rely on practical in country experience.
We believe people who are widely travelled and who speak languages other than their native tongue have more neuro elasticity and a higher propensity to adapt and evolve and work together as harmonious global team members. They are simply soft wired over time and naturally adaptive.
We need people like this to help us to grow our businesses internationally, naturally and sustainably.
This starts at board level. The EU prioritises Export growth investment for companies with diversified, multicultural boards. There is more vibrancy, higher CQ scores and ROI is clearly better over time.
It is also a good idea to encourage your local market teams to provide thought leadership and develop and fine tune the product strategy locally FIRST and foremost.
Try not to enforce your UK, French, German or US product philosophy in new market territories with clear cultural differences.
Let the locals lead, take ownership and gradually adapt a common purpose and even a local social value around your brand. This is applying CQ in practice.
Written by Charles Smee , Founder and Managing Director of Transaction Focus Ltd