Cultural Intelligence Can Mean the World to You on World Culture Day

Life and business can take us to many varied and incredible places around the world, exposing us to unlimited opportunity, unlimited talent, unlimited experiences and inspirations. To be able to tap into the amazing sources of insight and learning, it takes an open and willing mind to understand and embrace new cultures, attitudes and customs. And all of this can happen all around us, at home, in the office, in our personal life, in everything we do.

Understanding CQ

This is where Cultural Intelligence (CQ) comes in. Cultural Intelligence is similar to Emotional Intelligence (EQ) but picks up where EQ ends. CQ is the skill to recognize, understand and interpret ambiguous and foreign habits or nuances and even imitate them to help build trust and foster a healthy relationship. That said, this isn’t a magic formula to forge instant close relationships. The truth is, any and every relationship has to be nurtured and developed. We can’t force people to like us or engage with us. Instead we have to work to build relationships on solid foundations based, on mutual ideas, values, preferences and aligned goals.

Indeed, it’s exactly these types of skills that are now being identified as critical to the make-up of today’s businesses and integral to the core soft skills required in the workplace of the future. This aligns to the notion of building CQ into the education system ahead of entering a workplace that will be blended and formed of a new combination of people from varying backgrounds and cultures with robots, tech and AI.

The Benefits

Having a high Cultural Intelligence has proven commercial benefits as it positively impacts the bottom line. 82% of respondents in Deloitte’s Impact of Culture on Business Strategy research believe that “culture is a potential competitive advantage”[1], while a McKinsey & Company study found companies in the bottom 25% for both gender and ethnic/cultural diversity were 29% less likely to experience profitability above the industry average.[2]

None of this is just a ‘nice to have’, it’s good for people and for business. Building great relationships is a key foundation to business success. And great relationships, are critically dependent on a few core elements. Communication, trust, understanding and respect. If you are missing just one of these, then most relationships, of any kind, are not going to flourish and stand the test of time. Establishing and maintaining healthy relationships takes thought, time and effort and perhaps most critically, an understanding of differences.

How to Make a Difference

So how can we bring this all to life and make it real? At Dell Technologies, we have always taken an active role in unlocking innovation by celebrating differences. We champion access and opportunity for all and we respect differences in people and cultures among our team members, customers and partners across the world. We’re passionate about contributing to the communities we live and work in and we strongly support partnerships that help us contribute to those communities and cultivate inclusion.

To underline this commitment, Michael Dell chairs our Global Diversity Council. This council provides direction, support and strategic oversight, ensuring that Diversity and Inclusion is woven into the fabric of everything we do. Michael’s role in this demonstrates the intention of our business and it is an example of the role leaders can be playing; instilling the practices and attitudes of Diversity and Inclusion while also encouraging and supporting other leaders to follow suit.

On World Culture Day, a global event to raise the awareness and understanding of diversity issues and the value of cultural diversity, it’s a time to reflect just how important it is to have an enhanced understanding and awareness of foreign customs and cultures to begin to build and grow successful and healthy business relationships.

Seize the Opportunity 

Aside from Global travel, it’s a Global mentality that presents us all with the unique and significant opportunity to learn, grow and innovate professionally and personally. Actively and positively seeking out the moments to experience and absorb new cultures and customs first-hand is the key. That means pushing out of the proverbial comfort zone, raising your CQ and ultimately developing yourself as well as new ideas and opportunities through new genuine, meaningful and real relationships.

[1] https://www2.deloitte.com/insights/us/en/focus/human-capital-trends/2016/impact-of-culture-on-business-strategy.html

[2] https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/delivering-through-diversity

About the Author: Adrian McDonald

Adrian McDonald is the EMEA President of Dell EMC. Adrian is responsible for the company’s overall revenue generation, management and business strategy in the region. As part of Dell Technologies, Adrian helps businesses understand and implement their own digital transformation, critically from a commercial as well as a technology perspective. In his role, Adrian has daily interactions with senior business leaders across EMEA and sees digital transformation as a top priority in helping companies win in the digital age. Adrian’s unique insight has led him to identify an evolution happening within the role of the CEO. This focuses on the CEO’s understanding and awareness of technology’s influence to ensure their business stays relevant and competitive in the fourth industrial revolution. This new type of CEO Adrian calls the ‘Connected CEO’ who strives for profit and revenue growth but now with technology and digital channels at the heart of this growth. Based at DELL EMC’s headquarters in London, Adrian has held the role of EMEA president since 2012. Whilst leading the business, Adrian has brought a relentless focus on innovation, notably with the introduction of a successful services and solutions-led agenda which continues to underpin the company’s drive for market-share capture. Since joining EMC in 1988, Adrian has held a variety of US-based, international and global positions at EMC including Senior Vice-President & General Manager for EMC’s business in the UK and then overseeing EMC’s EMEA-North region before becoming EMEA president in 2012. Adrian holds a BA Honours degree in History and Politics from Warwick University and is an alumni of Columbia Business School. He continues to be strong long-term supporter of the Princes Trust, sits on the EMEA Women in Action board and chairs the global MOSAIC board which advocates and promotes equality for minorities and cultural diversity.