4.1 The importance of cultural intelligence:
In almost any of today’s international or even national companies’ workforce, employees come from many different races and cultures. Such a diverse group is expected to work together though there are many apparent differences in behavior and attitudes. Before globalization, employees usually worked used to within the same racial groups. Now, there is an additional cultural barrier to overcome within the workforce, and working with the same standards as in the past would be ineffective.
4.2 Mindset Transformation; Adapting to cultural intelligence in society:
Business companies all around the world have already realized this trend and begun to take measures to improve the CQ of their workforce. Indeed, Cultural Quotient is becoming one of the main components in business. It also needs to be incorporated into education.
The Nanyang Technological University (NTU), a major Singaporean university, holds the world’s first Cultural Intelligence Center . It has become an essential part of the college’s undergraduate and MBA courses, indicating the growing importance of CQ in the workplace. NTU said, “ At the Center, we recognize that rigorous research and development on CQ is essential to the success of individuals and organizations in the increasingly challenging business environment. Hence, our mission is to lead in the generation of knowledge, products, and programs (KPP) for growing culturally intelligent individuals and organizations”.
4.3 CQ in school:
The International Classroom
Have you asked your parents why that there are many more foreign students in your classroom than in your parents’ classroom then? Owning no doubt to a global exposure, many schools worldwide now have students from different ethnics and nationalities. Besides the influx of immigrants into a country, more opportunities are given to foreign scholars to study abroad. Around the world, more and more students at a younger age are getting exposed to other students of different ethnicities.
Importance of Cohesion
The mindset and beliefs of a person often stem from his or her own childhood experiences and lessons. As that person matures to be an adult, the influence of his younger years would be rooted in him, both good and bad. As such, it is important to impress upon the young the importance of racial and religious harmony in the world, and to impart them the skills to interact with others of different skin color. Students taught this way may graduate with a possibly higher cultural intelligence, giving them the edge in their career and social life.
Students, especially in international schools, may interact with students of other races through project work, and other school activities. In all interactions an inevitable cultural barrier exists, which hinders the experience and productivity of the students. It is thus important for students to learn how to break down this cultural barrier and to erase such hindrances.
CQ for students
Here are some tips from us that might be helpful in improving your CQ if you are in school.
Organize and hold cultural festivals
Cultural festivals such as Chinese New Year and Christmas are an excellent opportunity for everyone to celebrate and share the customs and traditions of the respective ethnic groups. Folklore, traditional dishes and sweets add to the appeal and joy of learning as well. In Singapore, schools celebrate the festivals of the four main ethnic groups in the country. Celebrations are generally organized by the students themselves, and the whole school participates in various events such as traditional performances and games.
Also, as a student, you can try to initiate such events in your school. You can hold events such as food fairs or concerts, and even invite people from other ethnic groups to participate and help out in the preparation. Students can immerse themselves in the rich heritage of other ethnic groups during the festive periods, learning and enjoying at the same time.
Befriend, Don’t exclude
It is easy for the minority to be left out, more so if the student of an ethnic minority is not proficient in the country’s mother tongue. You can make friends with the foreign scholars and immigrants and find out about their background and culture. The foreign students can improve on the local language through interaction with other local students, and the local students can also hope to learn a little of the foreign student’s native language.
4.4: Cultural intelligence in the workplace:
Workplaces all over the world are becoming more cultural diverse which creates a challenge in coordinating work for the organization. In a certain task discussions, problems arise because the process is overly autocratic, or torn apart by personal conflicts due to cultural differences. Cultural intelligence provides the means of dealing with group development and process issues that are caused or exaggerated by cultural differences. You can do this through observing and understanding the different actions and intentions of your group members by acknowledging the cultural diversity of the group. Thus, by understanding how members see their roles in the group will help to improve the quality of work and interpersonal interactions within the group.
The best way to achieve the above goals is to ensure that group members have high cultural intelligence and group leaders have the will and skills to explore process issues within the group. Encouraging team members to speak to each other about his or her cultural backgrounds will be one of the efforts that can be made. This development of cohesiveness can take place over an extended time with four distinctive phrases being identified :
- Forming : First become familiar with each other.
- Storming : Go through inevitable conflicts that arise about work allocation and procedures in a group.
- Norming : Start to develop common expectations of each other
- Performing : Finally, work cohesively and effectively together
While this process may take longer in a multicultural work setting, patience is essential in bringing the group of workers together or integrating new culturally different members into the group.
Leadership across Culture
In a cultural context, leadership is the ability to influence a culturally diverse team to strive willingly and harmoniously to reach common goals. A leader may capture the loyalty of some followers, while being rejected and ridiculed by others. In that case, then he or she needs to display the mindfulness-adaptability skills to understand and act flexibly to solve the problem at hand.
Here is a case study  :
Kenichi Tokuzawa, a Japanese lecturer in a university, was acclaimed as an outstanding teacher for his clear structuring of class objectives and syllabi, meticulous class preparation, articulate use of language in teaching students. This won him a scholarship to spend a semester at a well-known university in New England to conduct daily lessons to American students. To his surprise, the students were rebellious and did not bother about Kenichi when he tried lecturing in an ordered manner of following a schedule he had planned earlier. Kenichi became confused as he did not expect such behavior and wondered if there was anything wrong with his teaching or the students.
The reason why Kenichi has failed in this case as he has tried associating his style of leadership in Japan to his American students. Japanese expect and accept that a leader will exercise caution authority as a right and they show more respect to leaders because of their positions whereas in the United States, leaders have to earn respect through their actions. In Kenichi’s example, if he had been less formal with his students but instead interacting with them much more before launching into his own agenda, he might have found it easier to conduct the lesson.
This case study shows us that flexibility and a clear understanding of the members’ traits will help leaders to lead more effectively. In a rapidly globalizing world today, leader cannot only lead with flexibility, but also have to lead with a deep understanding of the differences in his members. These differences include cultural differences and thus cultural intelligence will have to play a role in it.
4.5 Cultural Congruence:
Following the Leader
In a structured society, leaders are always seen as beacons of the people. Research has shown that leaders and followers are closely related as far as culture is concerned . Common beliefs, ideas and attitudes within a group are important in making national cultural values compatible with work practices. Thus, if one has a strong cultural or ethnic background, the way one sees the workplace will be mostly based on past experiences and cultural beliefs.
The choice of leaders, comes from what workers perceive as leadership qualities based on their background and influences  . Workers will compare their leader’s behavior with an image of their ideal leader. Their judgment is made quicker when both the leader and workers have similar cultural backgrounds, languages, work values, beliefs etc. The opposite is also true, when the leaders and workers have different cultural backgrounds. The process of workers assessing their leader before making a judgment is known as cultural congruence.
Outcomes of cultural congruence
Cultural congruence can lead to varying “leader-like” behavior , from currying favors and socializing with employees, to closely relating to employee’s concerns, while carrying out work-oriented issues such as appraisals or task completion. Such behaviors actually arise from cultural similarity.
There are positive reactions when there are close similarities culturally between leaders and workers. This results in closer ties and rapport between leaders and subordinates, and it is instrumental in subordinate performance. For instance, in a highly multi-cultural environment, a leader who hails from the same country as the employee gains positive respect through perceived behaviors (e.g. interacting outside work). This process of categorization of managers, associating with subordinates’ performance based on cultural background, was a model proposed by Gioia and Sims (1986).
Organizational citizenship behaviours (OCBs)
Organizational citizenship behaviours refer to traits that are not work related, but are desired or admired. Examples of OCBs include giving useful suggestions, high work efficiency, showing initiative for tasks unrelated to personal duties and refraining from undesirable behaviours (e.g. skiving, complaining). A commonly referenced model of OCB behaviours proposed by Organ (1988) comprises of conscientiousness , altruism , sportsmanship, civic virtue and courtesy .
OCBs are known to have certain association that links interaction between leaders and workers based on cultural similarity. As a worker respects his leader due to cultural congruence, OCBs tends to occur out of respect and reciprocity . This is a two way interaction where supervisors motivate and encourage subordinates while the latter reply in kind by working harder.
4.6 Applying CQ:
A high CQ as mentioned earlier is not just about having extensive knowledge of many cultures; it is also one’s ability to adapt and blend into new and unfamiliar ones. In the course of working, one would inevitably face unprecedented challenges, particularly those cultural in nature. Examples of cultural challenges may be meeting a new client with an unfamiliar culture, or cultural behaviors which clash and conflict with business deals. All of these may not have any written or conventional solutions. One has to experience and learn these from themselves.