Understanding Cultural Intelligence: What is CQ Strategy?

Understanding Cultural Intelligence: What is CQ Strategy?

by Felicity Menzies

CQ (Cultural Intelligence) Strategy is your ability to flex mentally. With high CQ Strategy, you are not confined to a single worldview, but are open to new or integrative ideas.

Do I have high CQ strategy?

CQ Knowledge refers to information about cultural differences stored in your memory. In contrast, CQ Strategy refers to your higher-level thinking skills that use this information to manage diversity.

CQ Strategy includes planning, awareness, and checking. Planning involves drawing on CQ Knowledge to anticipate and respond to cultural differences. Awareness involves being consciously alert and mentally flexible during diverse exchanges. Checking involves reflecting on the accuracy of your assumptions, interpretations, and predictions, and then adjusting these to take account of new information.

Why do I need CQ Strategy?

To manage cultural complexity

No cultural group is homogenous. Individual members differ in their thoughts and behaviours. Cross-cultural similarities and differences at group level are a helpful starting point, but within-group variations limit the usefulness of generalisations. Each new diverse interaction is unique. In novel or ambiguous settings, CQ Strategy helps you to choose and organise responses, then test and reflect on the accuracy of your assumptions, and experiment with alternative approaches. Through trial and error, you are able to construct a cultural profile that fits each new context.

To build trust and rapport

When consciously mindful of cultural influences, you are less likely to rely on stereotypes or label differences as personality flaws. As a result, you are better able to respond to diverse others with respect, openness, and acceptance.

To increase innovation

CQ Strategy encourages alternative perspective-taking. This promotes the sharing, consideration, and integration of diverse perspectives, knowledge, and experience.

To improve task performance

CQ Strategy improves your mental flexibility. This helps you to adopt a mindset best suited to interpreting and responding to a particular setting.

To support self-directed learning

CQ Strategy enhances your acquisition of Cultural Intelligence over time. As you check the accuracy of your assumptions and the appropriateness of your responses, you continually update your understanding of cultural differences. As a tool for self-directed learning, CQ Strategy compensates for a lack of context-specific knowledge.

What are the other components of Cultural Intelligence?

CQ Strategy is just one component of the four-factor model of Cultural Intelligence. Individuals with high Cultural Intelligence (CQ) display three other critical competencies:

CQ Drive is your willingness to work with diverse others. This involves your ability to overcome explicit or unconscious bias and includes your capacity to persist in challenging interactions, even when confused, frustrated, or burnt out.

CQ Knowledge is your understanding of culture and cultural differences. This involves more than awareness of variations in language, customs, and appearance. Core cultural differences are invisible, but they cause the most problems and are often overlooked. Hidden cultural differences include values, assumptions, and beliefs.

CQ Action is your ability to flex verbal and non-verbal behaviour. This decreases the risk of miscommunication and helps you to respond to diverse others in a way that conveys respect and builds trust and rapport.

Van Dyne, L., Ang, S., Ng, K. Y., Rockstuhl, T., Tan, M. L., & Koh, C. (2012). Sub-dimensions of the four factor model of cultural intelligence: Expanding the conceptualization and measurement of cultural intelligence. Social and personality psychology compass, 6(4), 295-313.

Felicity Menzies is CEO and Principal Consultant at Include-Empower.Com, a diversity and inclusion consultancy with expertise in inclusive leadership, unconscious bias, cultural intelligence and inclusion, gender equity, empowering diverse talent. Felicity is an accredited facilitator with the Cultural Intelligence Centre and the author of A World of Difference. Felicity has over 15 years of experience working with and managing diverse workforces in blue chip companies and is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand. Felicity also holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.