Intercultural Coaching

Intercultural Coaching

by Felicity Menzies
Cultural intelligence (CQ) coaching offers guidance to individuals seeking to understand their intercultural strengths and weaknesses and develop their effectiveness in diverse cultural settings.
Happy senior Caucasian businessman and a young Japanese businesswoman/entrepreneur are exchanging their business cards, Kyoto, Japan, Asia. Office interior, copy space. Nikon D800, full frame, XXXL. iStocklypse Kyoto 2016.
37779413 - asian business team in conference meeting looking at camera

A New Workplace Competency

Management scholars have long accepted the importance of interpersonal effectiveness at work. Social and emotional intelligence, however, are culture-bound. The social skills that support successful adaptation in one environment do not directly transfer to another setting. The workplace has changed dramatically over the last two decades and skill sets must align with this new environment. To be effective in today’s business environment, individuals must demonstrate intercultural competence.

Interacting Across Cultures

Culture shock refers to the disorientation and distress that a person experiences when they are exposed to a new cultural environment and they fail to adjust their cultural framework.
Colleen Ward, Stephen Bockner, & Adrian Furnham present an ABC model of culture shock:
Shot of a young businesswoman looking stressed out while working in an office


This concerns the emotional stages one typically experiences when they encounter a new culture.

Read more

A brief, initial honeymoon stage of excitement and curiosity is followed by negative emotions like confusion, anxiety, and helplessness, as well as anger, impatience, exhaustion, and hostility. The individual might experience an intense desire to flee and withdraw socially, experiencing isolation and loneliness. Sometimes physical health is affected, and a percentage suffer significant mental illness.

[size=12]Businessman looking serious in meeting.[/size]




This involves an inability to respond and act appropriately in the new environment.

Read more

A lack of understanding of the norms and assumptions for social interaction, and problems with communication and in the execution of gestures and rituals, mean the individual is unable to form effective social relationships. They might even unintentionally cause offence. Poor intercultural relations contribute to a failure to achieve both social and professional goals in the novel settings.

Mature man posing with his wife and daughters


As individuals come into contact with beliefs and norms that conflict with their own cultural codes, perceptions of differences drive distinctions of ‘us’ vs. ‘them’.

Read more

Individuals become more ethnocentric—a belief in the superiority of their own culture—and form negative biases and stereotypes towards members of the novel cultural group as they judge them according to their own cultural ideals, and seek to maintain the validity of their own cultural truths.

Closing The Intercultural Skills Gap with Cultural Intelligence

Cropped shot of two businesspeople shaking hands during a meeting in the boardroom
Because intercultural education is not mandatory and is typically more awarenesss focussed than skills-focussed, many graduates remain chronically under-equipped for managing cultural diversity. More than 40 percent of international assignments fail.
The shortage of intercultural skills in the labour markets means that organisations have a large role to play in developing intercultural competency, particularly in terms of practical skills.
Fortunately, academia has provided business with a proven model for developing intercultural competency. Cultural Intelligence, or CQ, is the collection of knowledge, skills, and abilities that enable an individual to detect, assimilate, reason and act on cultural cues appropriately.

Individuals with high CQ display four main competencies:

CQ Drive

CQ Drive is your willingness to work with culturally diverse others.

Read More

CQ Drive involves your ability to overcome explicit or unconscious bias and your capacity to persist in challenging interactions – even when confused, frustrated or burnt out.

CQ Knowledge

CQ Knowledge is your understanding of culture and cultural differences.

Read More

CQ Knowledge involves more than awareness of variations in language, customs and appearance. Core cultural di erences like values, assumptions and beliefs are often invisible but cause the most problems—and are frequently overlooked.

CQ Strategy

CQ Strategy is your ability to flex mentally.

Read More

With high CQ Strategy, you are not confined to a single world view. You are open to new or integrative ideas.

CQ Action

CQ Action is your ability to flex verbal and non-verbal behaviour.

Read More

CQ Action decreases the risk of miscommunication and helps you to respond to diverse others in a manner that conveys respect and builds trust and rapport.

 More About Cultural Intelligence

How CQ Differs from Other Intercultural Models

Since 2004, when the Harvard Business Review published ‘Cultural Intelligence’,  a notable collection of established organisations across a variety of industries in more than 100 countries have embraced CQ as a tool for enhancing global effectiveness.


The four competencies that form high Cultural Intelligence are not abstract ideas. Social scientists have demonstrated that those competencies map to particular regions of the brain.

Studies show they predict important measures of performance in diverse cultural settings, including better problem solving and decision-making, improved well-being, and better task performance.

In fact, Cultural Intelligence is a better predictor of effectiveness in diverse settings than cognitive ability, emotional intelligence (EQ), personality, demographic characteristics, language fluency and international experience.


Cultural Intelligence is not a personality trait, nor something you are born with. Rather Cultural Intelligence can be developed with education, training, and experience. This malleability provides companies with an opportunity to create an enviable competitive advantage—a capacity for innovation and agility—that can drive sustainable global growth.


Cultural intelligence is not about becoming an “expert” in any one culture. Rather, CQ is a set of generic competencies that transcend national borders, rigid stereotypes, and particular cultural contexts. Cultural intelligence involves an inclusive mindset and adaptable behavioural repertoire that promotes cultural fluency across varied cultural contexts. By transcending rigid stereotypes, Cultural Intelligence accommodates for nuanced cultural differences, and that makes Cultural Intelligence a powerful tool for managing the complexity of cultural diversity and unlocking its potential.

The Competitive Advantage of CQ

Over 100 peer-reviewed studies on CQ have been published in academic journals since its conceptualisation in 2003. Collectively, this work supports the validity of CQ as a proven model of intercultural competence. In diverse cultural settings, CQ improves:


Individuals with CQ are better able to understand instructions and form effective relationships to achieve work goals.


Individuals with CQ are better able to interpret the intentions and behaviours of others, improving judgment, decision-making and problem-solving.


Leaders and workers with high Cultural Intelligence can establish trust and rapport and build strong collaborative networks both inside and outside the organisation. They can build strong alliances across the globe to help them capture new opportunities. They are better at engaging with suppliers and collaborators and influencing policy makers and other stakeholders external to the organisation.


Cultural intelligence predicts the formation of diverse networks and the sharing and integration of information and ideas. Cultural Intelligence helps to foster an organisational culture where diverse viewpoints drive new insights. Cultural Intelligence encourages expansive and integrative new ways of thinking. This drives innovation, creativity, and experimentation.


Leaders with cultural intelligence inspire and unite diverse employees with a shared and well-articulated vision.

Customer Satisfaction

A workforce with high Cultural Intelligence possesses the dynamic competencies needed to continuously adapt processes, products, and services to capture new opportunities and respond to changing tastes and needs across diverse markets.


Cultural Intelligence improves organisational agility by preventing organisational silos and turf wars, and by encouraging customer centricity, challenging the status quo, and an increased willingness for change.

Shot of a group of colleagues having a meeting at work

Cultural Intelligence & Inclusion

While social and emotional intelligence predict interpersonal effectiveness in culturally homogenous environments, CQ explains differences in interpersonal functioning outside one’s home culture. In diverse cultural settings, CQ improves:


Cultural intelligence disrupts negative stereotypes and enhances intercultural understanding and respect. Workplace incivility, harassment and discrimination are lower.


Cultural intelligence dismantles ‘us vs them’ social categorisations and is positively associated with work group cohesion, integration, and trust.


Workers with cultural intelligence experience higher levels of sociocultural adjustment and psychological well-being and lower levels of stress. Workers are more satisfied, engaged, and committed. All employees contribute fully to work processes.


Cultural intelligence allows for new leadership models. Companies are better able to win, develop, energise and promote top global talent.

Coaching Program Outline

A standard coaching package consists of 3.5 hours of face-to-face or virtual coaching, structured as 1 x 90-minute coaching session and 2 x 60-minute coaching sessions over 2 to 3 months.
Portrait of a young woman working on a laptop in an office

Session One: Challenges & Goal Setting


  • Understanding the Context (Role, Stakeholders, Challenges)
  • Professional Aspirations
  • Interacting Across Cultures
  • Understanding the CQ Model
  • CQ Strengths & Developmental Areas
  • Goal Setting
  • Actions & Accountability

Arabian man in turban giving interview in tv-studio

Session Two: Progress Check & Goal Review


  • Successes and Challenges
  • Reflection of Learnings
  • Review of Developmental Goals
  • Action & Accountability

A group of professionals stand together for a portrait session. They are dressed in business wear that represents their occupations. A young woman stands in front.

Session 3: Consolidating Learnings & Sustaining Change


  • Success and Challenges
  • Reflection of Learnings
  • Review of Developmental Goals
  • Action & Accountability
  • Sustaining Change

Learning Outcomes

  • The foundation of knowledge, skills and abilities required to manage any new cultural setting
  • Improved interpersonal effectiveness, judgment and task performance in diverse cultural settings
  • Techniques to develop one’s cultural intelligence
  • An expansive worldview and flexible behavioural repertoire.
  • Personal growth
  • Improved sociocultural adjustment and well-being

Leaders, people managers and individual contributors working in diverse cultural settings at home or across borders.

Coachees would complete the CQ Assessment as important input into the program.

Learn more

To help you to further develop your cultural intelligence you will be provided with learning aids and texts by Dr. David Livermore of the Cultural Intelligence Centre and Felicity Menzies containing a wealth of information on crossing cultures effectively and managing in culturally diverse settings.

Please contact us for details of our fee structure.