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Solving The ‘How’ Of Global Diversity Competence

What is Cultural Intelligence?

Cultural Intelligence is the capability to manage cultural diversity: the set of knowledge, skills, and abilities required to recognise, understand, reflect on, and adapt to cultural differences.

Backed by over a decade of robust scientific research and practical application, Cultural Intelligence provides organisations with a framework for managing diversity that yields tangible results.

As a tool for managing any form of cultural diversity, whether national, gender, generational, ethnic, health status, sexual orientation, or other subculture, Cultural Intelligence helps turn a business risk into a strategic strength.


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

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

In fact, Cultural Intelligence is a better predictor of success in diverse settings than cognitive ability, emotional intelligence (EQ), personality, demographics, and international experience.

The Competitive Advantage

Cultural Intelligence is not a personality trait, nor is it something you are born with. Rather, Cultural Intelligence develops through education, training, and experience. This malleability offers organisations an opportunity to create an enviable competitive advantage.

Companies with leaders and workers who have high Cultural Intelligence are more agile. These organisations can quickly adapt processes, products, and services to capture new opportunities and respond to change across diverse markets.

Cultural Intelligence also promotes successful intercultural relations, both inside and outside the organisation. This improves business performance via enhanced innovation, increased workforce engagement, and more effective partnering.

Four Competencies

Individuals with high Cultural Intelligence (CQ) display four main competencies:

CQ Drive is your willingness to work with diverse others. This 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 is your understanding of culture and cultural differences. This involves more than awareness of variations in language, customs, and appearance. Core cultural differences like values, assumptions, and beliefs are often invisible but cause the most problems—and are frequently overlooked.

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

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 manner that conveys respect and builds trust and rapport.

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