As I go around encouraging people to boost their impact through cultural intelligence, there is a part of me that worries about a possible misconception of my message. There is some small risk that people might take my comments as: “So if I don’t take your cultural intelligence class that means that I am culturally stupid, right??” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Cultural intelligence (CQ), just like a person’s IQ is a personal strength. We all have cultural intelligence whether we have taken some class or not. And CQ has been shown that it can be developed and enhanced. It is, in fact, the developmental aspect of CQ that appeals to the coach in me. I help people be more effective by building on what they have, minimize blind spots, get clarity on their motivators, and build in accountability. This dovetails nicely with a strengths-based approach like CQ.
Working on our intercultural skills is not an admission that we do not have some effective experience to lean on. Rather it is a recognition that:
1) We have more to learn about ourselves and others.
2) Culture is complex.
3) We might experience periods of stagnation in our development.
So no, not developing one’s cultural intelligence is not an indicator of over-all intelligence, but in this day and age developing intercultural skills seems like the smart thing to do.