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Cultural Intelligence

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Cultural Intelligence


1. Introduction: Culture and Intelligence Defined 3

2. The concept of cultural intelligence 7

3. The effect of Globalisation on CQ 8

4. Aspects of Cultural Intelligence 10

5. Developing and Enhancing Cultural Intelligence 12

6. Profiles of Cultural Intelligence 14

7. Business benefits of Cultural Intelligence 16

8. Conclusion 18

9. References 19

1. Introduction: Culture and Intelligence Defined

"Managing and leading people, with various cultural backgrounds, require "cultural intelligence", which in a global setting is a management challenge in the new millennium".

All individuals have something psychologists call "personality" which is made up of traits, that influences the way we think, feel and behave and make us unique. Traits are a group of characteristics and consist of a variety of individual attributes, including aspects of temperament, behaviours, and thought process, needs, motives and values. An individual's personality is permanent and stable, and is the manner in which an individual reacts and interacts with others. There are a number of factors that affect and influence personality. The factors affecting personality (Gerber et al, 1999:54) is depicted in Figure 1 below. An important contributor is culture.

Figure 1: Factors affecting personality

Similarly organisations also have personality, but that which is defined as culture. Culture is an integral part of our everyday lives and is encompassed in our beliefs, values, shared patterns of behaviours, and it gives meaning to our lives. Du Brin (1997:232) defines organisational culture as a system of shared values and beliefs that influence worker behaviour. Organisational culture is found in the way employees act towards each other and the external environment and is reflective in "the way we do things around here". Organisational culture forms the basis of the social environment of an organisation. In addition, employees learn about an organisations culture via socialisation and interaction with one another. Figure 2 illustrates the characteristics of an organisation's culture (Robbins et al, 1996:80).

Figure 2: Characteristics of an Organisation's Culture

Marco Tavanti (2005:4) states that Ð''Culture for leadership is what water is for fish'. In order to understand all aspects of leadership (personal, collective and organisational) one has to take cognisance of culture and its relationship to leadership. Managers working in a global and diverse environment must be culturally aware.

Culture has many dimensions namely:

Ð'* Language which is an important means for effective verbal communication.

Ð'* Different cultures view time in different ways. In some culture to be on-time as important. Other cultures view time as a linear concept.

Ð'* Personal space is utilised differently between cultures. Black South Africans have small personal space whereas Americans have larger personal spaces. This can be seen in personal contact as well as the distance in conversations observed by some cultures.

Ð'* Religion is the foundation for many cultural beliefs, ethical codes, morals, values, etc.

The vision and mission statement of an organisation embodies its culture. The vision is a short yet inspiring statement of what an organisation aspires to achieve in the future. The Eskom vision, "Together building the powerbase for sustainable growth and development", signifies focusing on the organisations core business of electricity. This will be achieved with the Eskom mission, "Eskom will grow shareholder value by exceeding the needs of local and foreign customers with energy and related services". The strategy to achieve this is via the optimal utilisation and operation of the organisations assets, resources and skills base.

Examining Eskom as an organisation, the employees are diverse in many aspects: race, gender, religious denominations, cultural backgrounds, beliefs, values, life approach, etc. In order to harmonise the organisation; the mangers and leaders of Eskom will have to get a better understanding of cultural intelligence or CQ. In order to achieve the vision of Eskom, all employees will have to pull together and socialise to gain an understanding of the organisational culture.

A major challenge for today's global leaders and organisations is culture. Because of globalisation, there are a growing number of international organisations with increased awareness of cross-cultural situations. Tavanti (2005: 7) further states that in the ever-changing work environment and global society, the development of cross-culturally competent leaders will be an essential challenge for effective leadership practises.

Leaders are, or should be, intelligent people (Tavanti, 2005: 12). There are various types of intelligence and leadership intelligence comprises cognitive, emotional, spiritual and cultural intelligence. Figure 3 below illustrates the concept of intelligent leadership.

Figure 3: Intelligent Leadership (Tavanti, 2005:12)

Note all of the real-life examples quoted in this assignment, are based on the authors own experiences in Eskom. It is an observation of the concept of cultural intelligence in practise within the organisation.

2. The concept of cultural intelligence

Managers are increasingly faced with the challenges of navigating through the various cultures of people employed within an organisation namely working with a multi-cultural workforce. As such managers need to be equipped to engage in business and interact with people from all kinds cultures Ð'- both from abroad and at home. Similar to having good cognitive skills as in intelligence quotient (IQ) and emotional intelligence



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