What is cultural intelligence (CQ) and why do we need it?

A brief introduction to cultural intelligence (CQ)

First there was IQ, then EQ, now there’s CQ – cultural intelligence, and it’s a skill everyone must have. Globalization has made the corporate world more connected, complex and competitive. The ability to function effectively across different cultures is called cultural intelligence. It’s never been more important for organizations and individuals to understand and manage the impact of cultural differences. For organizations, CQ is the link between a diverse workforce and diverse customers. For individuals, CQ is the competitive edge when looking for new opportunities. 90% of executives are looking for people who have cultural intelligence.

Click here to find out how to develop cultural intelligence

Research on cultural intelligence demonstrates many promising benefits for individuals and organizations. An individual’s CQ predicts performance when working in culturally diverse situations. Organizational CQ predicts results when working across cultural borders and increases the likelihood the organization will successfully accomplish its mission in this globalized and multicultural world.

We all have an individual approach to life, work and relationships. In every relationship we manage differences by understanding the other’s view point.  Relationships become more complex in global organizations, where teams are working across cultures, time zones and virtual technologies. It’s not always easy to understand why someone acts the way they do, but if you could receive advice on how to manage differences wouldn’t that make life easier?

Business impact of CQ

  • Greater innovation through diversity of ideas and approaches to work and problem solving
  • Profitability and cost saving due to increased productivity – this can be a result of time saving, more effective communication, quicker decision making and making better decisions for the business
  • Speed and efficiency when working across cultures
  • Promotes global team collaboration and enhance communication
  • Effective short-term and long-term international assignments
  • Becoming an employer of choice for showing diverse and inclusive mindset
  • Multicultural team effectiveness
  • Improved morale due to less team conflict
  • Clearer defined leadership and strategy
  • Work effectively with global clients and vendors
  • Support international travelers to achieve success in global markets
  • Expansion into new global markets
  • Understand colleagues’ daily realities and challenges

Do you work in an organisation where multicultural teams are the norm? Have you ever considered that cultural differences could be impacting communication, collaboration and productivity?


Country Navigator, our cross cultural training tool is used by 75% of Fortune 500 companies to overcome these challenges. Diverse teams really do bring a competitive advantage to an organisation but cultural awareness and understanding is required in order to overcome the gaps cultural differences create.


It is imperative that diverse organisations support an inclusive culture where cultural awareness and cultural sensitivity are paramount.


Contact us for more information on how we can support your organisation to overcome cultural differences and turn diversity into your competitive advantage.




About the Author

Terence Brake

Terence Brake is an author in the global learning & development field and has over 20 years experience helping executives to work better across cultures.

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