handsBeing a culturally intelligent leader requires more than understanding cultural differences. At times it can be quite difficult to decipher when a particular behaviour is related to cultural conditioning, personality, current circumstances or a temporary emotional reaction. When I am called in to coach clients in appropriate Canadian behaviours, I am always made aware of how our expectations and evaluation of another person’s behaviour is so highly influenced by factors, many of which are not cultural at all.

I see culture and personality as a continuum with no hard line dividing where one starts and the other ends. But understanding the important role of culture is key to solving many workplace conflicts.

Livermore’s excellent article below explores this in more depth.

Culturally Intelligent Leaders Know When it’s “Cultural” … and when it isn’t.

By Dave Livermore

You’re talking to someone from a different culture and he won’t look you in the eye. Is it cultural? Is it a personal quirk? Or is something else going on? How do you know? And what difference does it make?

“A problem is a problem, regardless of the source.” But getting at what’s behind the problem and knowing how to interpret the communication you receive is a critical part of leading successfully in today’s multicultural context. In fact, few things more quickly demonstrate your cultural intelligence than whether you can sort through what’s cultural and what’s not and how to respond.

I spend many of my waking hours thinking, writing, and talking about culture. How does culture influence the way someone is motivated? To what cultures is a leader’s style best suited? And what cultural values shape the way an organization images itself?

Read more…