Secrets to Effective Leadership – Developing your Cultural Intelligence

Updated: Mar 3


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Respect, Value & Embrace Difference

Cultural Intelligence (CQ) evolves from Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Emotional Intelligence (EQ). Cultural Intelligence refers to the ability to thrive in multiple cultures and successfully cross boundaries.


Essentially, Cultural Intelligence lies between the areas of your being that you consider your core (core beliefs), the parts of yourself that are rigid. You believe without them you wouldn’t be yourself and, what Julia Middleton refers to as your flex, the parts of yourself which you are flexible about. It is a line that moves throughout a lifetime. The more we learn about the world, and the differences in it, the more likely we are to develop our sense of tolerance.


Julia Middleton uses the following example to illustrate this best. When what you wear is heavily related to your values, beliefs, or practices and is – we begin to understand why such things as wearing certain garments are so important to certain people. When I, a western woman, with few beliefs or values attached to dress or clothing garments, travel a country with strong cultural practice to wearing a head covering like an abaya – I may feel conflicted perhaps because of connotations surrounding women empowerment. Or I may easily adhere smoothly to the cultural practice, depending on how strongly I adhere to other cultural values I may hold. We perhaps identify and understand the beliefs of those around us as these may strongly be instilled in the culturally relative core.


When we explore these relative disparities as individuals, in core and flex, in different contexts, we begin to form an understanding of how cultural intelligence may impact our ability to successfully engage with or lead a multicultural audience.


On further reflection, we gradually reveal where our biases and prejudices lie. Explore what resides firmly in your core, take full ownership, and continue to learn to respectfully value different perspectives. By doing so, we develop a richer understanding of our own cultural intelligence through this reflective work. We develop more sustainable leadership skills when we learn to respect, value, and embrace difference.


I implore you to explore this in relation to World Hijab Day 2022 today!



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