Cultural intelligence (CQ)

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This article describes the relationships of cultural intelligence (CQ) with other types of intelligence, motivation, and leadership behavior. Mindfulness provides for a conceptualization of intercultural competence. CQ is a useful competency for acculturation challenges as required for expatriate talents in multinational enterprises. People used to minority status, people from more diverse environments, and those with higher CQ experience more positive acculturation and psychological well-being. For Global Talent Management CQ is essential as a predictor of performance and creativity and therefore increasingly used as assessment tool also for transformational leadership styles.

Emotional and social intelligence, motivation, and leadership behavior

Human capital is the major sub-factor of intellectual capital that contains a measurement of “sharing and reporting knowledge” [1], indicating that social competencies are acquired capabilities on the basis of emotional intelligence [2]. Cultural intelligence (CQ) might be essential to enable sharing across cultures as it means the ability to adapt to a new culture through open-mindedness and judgment-free respect for others [3]. CQ moderates emotional intelligence and leadership behavior [4]. Indeed, to understand emotional intelligence, cross-cultural differences need to be understood too [5]. As emphasized in the theory of emotional and social intelligence competencies (ESC), the motivation to make use of the competencies is vital to consider too [2].

Mindfulness, acculturation, and psychological well-being

Mindfulness might provide for a comprehensive conceptualization of intercultural competence as a cultural sensitivity that is put in action as a result of reflection [6]. Cross-cultural intelligence can be taught through different respectively the combination of methods such as lectures, literature, exchange sessions, and most effectively field trips [7]. CQ is also a significant contributor to career capital [8], potentially not only across geographies, but also in navigating company cultures [9]. Direct inter-cultural contact impacts both cultures involved, a process that is called acculturation [10]. The challenges that come with such foreign cultural influences might be a reason why it is often difficult to find talents who are willing to live abroad. People used to minority status, people from more diverse environments, and those with higher CQ experience more positive acculturation and psychological well-being [11].

Performance improvement and transformational leadership

Assessing CQ is highly useful for global talent management as there is a proven positive correlation with job performance [12]. Thanks to higher-quality cross-cultural social exchanges, knowledge hiding, on the one hand, can be decreased and creativity, on the other hand, improved [13]. It is, therefore, not surprising that culturally intelligent global leaders are high in demand [3]. An impressing percentage of 92% (out of 100) of companies who invested into improving CQ increased revenues within one and a half years [14]. Multinational organizations’ talent management functions fare well with using CQ as a selection tool [15]. Social intelligence and CQ also predict effective transformational leadership styles [16] as it allows the appropriate adaption of behavior to cultural differences [3].


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[2] Emmerling, R. J., & Boyatzis, R. E. (2012). Emotional and social intelligence competencies: cross cultural implications. Cross Cultural Management-An International Journal, 19(1), 4-18.

[3] Ramsey, J. R., Rutti, R. M., Lorenz, M. P., Barakat, L. L., & Sant’anna, A. S. (2017). Developing Global Transformational Leaders. Journal Of World Business, 52(4), 461-473. doi:

[4] Alon, I., & Higgins, J. M. (2005). Global leadership success through emotional and cultural intelligences. Business Horizons, 48(6), 501-512. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2005.04.003

[5] Bangun, Y. R., & Iswari, K. R. (2015). Searching for Emotional Intelligence Measurement in Indonesia Context with Innovative Approach. Procedia – Social And Behavioral Sciences, 169(The 6th Indonesia International Conference on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Small Business (IICIES 2014), 337-345. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.01.318

[6] Tuleja, E. A. (2014). Developing Cultural Intelligence for Global Leadership through Mindfulness. Journal Of Teaching In International Business, 25(1), 5-24.

[7] Putranto, N. R., Gustomo, A., & Ghazali, A. (2015). Analysis of Cross Cultural Management Course Pedagogy Methods in Developing Students’ Cultural Intelligence. Procedia – Social And Behavioral Sciences, 169(The 6th Indonesia International Conference on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Small Business (IICIES 2014), 354-362. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.01.320

[8] Cao, L., Hirschi, A., & Deller, J. (2012). Self-initiated expatriates and their career success. Journal Of Management Development, 31(2), 159. doi:10.1108/02621711211199494

[9] Earley, P. C., & Mosakowski, E. (2004). Cultural Intelligence. Harvard Business Review, 82(10), 139.

[10] de Figueiredo, J. M. (2013). Prevention of demoralization in prolonged bicultural conflict and interaction: the role of cultural receptors I – description of a natural experiment. The International Journal Of Social Psychiatry, 59(5), 419-430. doi:10.1177/0020764012462660

[11] Volpone, S. D., Marquardt, D. J., Casper, W. J., & Avery, D. R. (2018). Minimizing Cross-Cultural Maladaptation: How Minority Status Facilitates Change in International Acculturation. Journal Of Applied Psychology, 103(3), 249-269. doi:10.1037/ap10000273


[13] Bogilović, S., Černe, M., & Škerlavaj, M. (2017). Hiding behind a mask? Cultural intelligence, knowledge hiding, and individual and team creativity. European Journal Of Work And Organizational Psychology, 26(5), 710-723. doi:10.1080/1359432X.2017.1337747

[14] Roberts, L. G. (2010). Looking beneath the tip of the iceberg: cultural intelligence in international education. International Schools Journal, 30(1), 38.

[15] Jyoti, J., & Kour, S. (2017). Factors affecting cultural intelligence and its impact on job performance Role of cross-cultural adjustment, experience and perceived social support. Personnel Review, 46(4), 767-791.

[16] Robert, E., & Radha, S. (2012). Measuring social and emotional intelligence competencies in the Indian context. Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, (1), 30. doi:10.1108/13527601211195619



About mathias sager

Independent researcher, artist, social entrepreneur, and leadership and strategy advisor I was born in Zurich in 1975 and grew up in Switzerland. Currently, I’m living in Tokyo. I love open-minded people everywhere and the passion to working relentlessly for developing human potential, which is an overarching theme throughout all his work. I have extensive experience in leadership and management, organizational psychology research, and learning & development practice. I have worked as a teacher, a leadership trainer, as well as a senior manager responsible for client relationships, counseling, and virtual teams around the world. Also, I’m a social entrepreneur and serving as a strategy and leadership advisor in different ways. My goal is to inspire with interdisciplinary, innovative, and cross-cultural approaches to personal and professional development for the people’s individual well-being and common good alike. Continuously learning himself and keen to help, I appreciate any questions or feedback you may have at any time. Please connect here on any social media, as well as per direct email
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2 Responses to Cultural intelligence (CQ)

  1. regerman says:

    Insightful read. Thank you

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