CQ is Cultural Quotient (or Cultural Intelligence), which as David Livermore explains in his book Leading with Cultural Intelligence: The Real Secret to Success, is becoming more important.
As companies either go global or hire a more diverse workforce, all leaders, managers and even employees need to become more aware of how different cultures view things. Although I knew this was something to be aware of and have come across it to small degrees in my career, this book has made me realize how harmful a low CQ can be.
Without going into too much detail about all the stages and ways one can develop CQ, reviewing cultural values is a quick and interesting way to highlight how different we are. A culture can emphasize—
- individual goals and rights vs. group goals and personal relationships;
- equality and shared decision making vs. differences in status and decisions made by "superiors";
- flexibility and adaptability vs. planning and predictability;
- collaboration and nurturing behavior to get results vs. competition, assertiveness, and achievement to get results;
- immediate outcomes vs. long-term outcomes;
- explicit communication (words) vs. indirect communication (tone and context);
- quality of life vs. being busy and meeting goals;
- rules and standards that apply to everyone vs. specific and unique standards based on relationships;
- non-emotional communication (hide feelings) and expressive communication (share feelings openly);
- linear approach to time and keeping work and personal lives separate vs. multitasking and combining work and personal lives.
Do you see how the above can be challenging? Imagine an American manager trying to motivate someone from a culture where time isn't linear? Or imagine him or her giving direct instructions to someone from a culture where either indirect communication or flexibility are valued? How about rewarding someone for individual tasks when they were raised to emphasize group goals and relationships?
As David explains, it's impossible for anyone to know all the cultural differences and nuances, but being aware is the first step. He shares many more details and examples, which I recommend everyone read.
Have you had a cross-cultural encounter? How did you handle it? How did the other party react?