Monday, May 17, 2021

Culture Intelligence

To be an effective culture master, one needs to take three steps- culture awareness, empathy and intelligence.

Every organization exhibits a culture. Anytime people work together for an extended period of time, a culture is formed. Organizations can learn, benchmark against, competencies to improve business performance. Whereas the cultural aspect is an intrinsic factor that drives the organization's business longevity, the point is what we do and how we behave. 

To be effective, one needs three things -- awareness, knowledge, and skill to build intrinsic, fluid and contextual culture intelligence.

"Cultural awareness?" or "cultural sensitivity & awareness?": Culture intelligence starts with something as simple as "cultural awareness?" Or "cultural sensitivity & awareness?" Culture is important to focus on and to have honest and purposeful conversations. The key is to create an environment in which people feel safe and will share. If they don't feel safe, they will spend time protecting themselves or pretending to be happy, looking over their back and second-guessing. Sensitivity" and "awareness" are incomplete -an internal state only, and "cultural sensitivity" has taken on the flavor of fearful-walking-on-eggshells-training for many people. Cultural respect for another's beliefs, traditions, lifestyle, etc, should also somehow be built into that term. 

Cultural Empathy: There will always be people who choose to be culturally impaired, the best we can do is at least to keep trying to help them view things from different perspectives even if they keep on running back to their comfort bunkers, Culture empathy that implies cultural respect for another's beliefs, traditions, lifestyle, etc should also somehow be built into that term. As leaders, empathy is the key to great leadership allowing you to speak to a person from the space they stand not where you think they should be. Let them know you are going to help them via connecting hearts and touching the minds!

People are different because they have different personalities, education, background, experience, preference, etc, you can always listen and build understanding by imagining what it could feel like, and acknowledging that experience, especially when it is much different than your own. Nothing in the world, in business or in life, is black and white. It could be hinting at another important skill for great leaders, which is respecting other people as if you were in their position. Empathy means using the right language with the right people to enforce communication and harness collaboration.

Culture intelligence: Culture intelligence goes beyond cultural empathy, which is too narrow in that it only describes relating to another's feelings, rather than the bigger picture that encompasses all that culture is. To capture the spirit of culture, management needs to uplift from culture-awareness to cultural intelligence, it's about cognizance and empathy-more deeply understand people, create bond with respect and trust, share their viewpoints, understand their value, motivation and priority, get anyone you work with energized and involved, not just recognize culture, but transcend the culture for making human progress and positive influence. It’s the ability to think, feel and act in ways that are respectful of cultural diversity. Lean toward Capacities rather than competency because it better conveys the idea of continuous growth. They can facilitate and orchestrate the multitude of differences in global context, connect global dots, inspire and nurture the evolution of businesses.

The world class digital leaders should have capabilities to deliver the vision for their business, industry, and even bigger ecosystem and build up a solid global leadership position. The point is what we do and how we behave. To be an effective culture master, one needs to take three steps- culture awareness, empathy and intelligence. Skills are useful insofar as they are effective. Effectiveness is fluid and contextual.


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