“I have become all things to all people,” writes Paul in First Corinthians, “so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Cor 9:22).
As Christian leaders embrace cross-cultural situations of growing complexity, Paul’s words remain as important to the twenty-first century church as to his first century audience.
On March 11, students, staff and faculty converged in the Emitte Center for a Cultural Intelligence (CQ) workshop led by the Center for Global Engagement.
Cultural Intelligence is a multi-dimensional construct, valid across social, demographic and personal variables, that measures one’s capacity to lead and serve effectively in diverse cultural settings. Examples of CQ in action include saying “no” in appropriate ways across cultures, knowing how to negotiate a business deal effectively and moving a diverse team toward innovative thinking and action.
Strategies covered included adapting one’s personal communication style to fit the preference of diverse colleagues, allowing time for all to participate in accordance to their comfort level, engaging a cultural mentor to help you lead effectively in multi-cultural tasks, and forming a strategic action plan for the next culturally unique scenario you enter.
Research indicates that homogeneous teams low in CQ are more effective than diverse teams; however, diverse teams high in Cultural Intelligence are much more innovative, effective and have a higher return on investment than homogeneous teams with low levels of CQ.
CQ workshops help participants:
Participants compare their cultural values, such as individualism versus collectivism, cooperation versus competition, and short term versus long term outcomes.
There is no “correct” combination of cultural values. Rather, as one participant reflected, the CQ workshop “helps with finding where I am and how much more I need to learn.”
Likewise, as workshop facilitator Dr. Janine Allen advised, we should each become aware of the “cultural backpacks” we carry as a result of our upbringing, education and social circles.
Create an action plan
Each participant received a feedback report detailing their CQ assessed via a 15-minute online survey prior to the workshop.
The feedback reports showed leaders their own motivation, understanding, strategy, and behavior within culturally diverse scenarios.
Each participant used the CQ feedback reports to develop a personal action plan to improve effectiveness in a specific cross-cultural setting.
One student pledged to work on motivation: “I will have more purposeful conversations with the international students in my dorm.”
“I will have more purposeful conversations with the international students in my dorm.”
My own score on the Being/Doing value spectrum, an 83 out of 100, aligned closely with Anglo countries and Germanic Europe. This correlates with an emphasis on meeting goals and affirming accomplishments in colleagues.
By contrast, colleagues in Latin America or Sub-Saharan Africa may view relationship-building as more essential to effectiveness than a task-driven agenda.
Acknowledging this dynamic this led me to create goal: to adjust my expectations for the speed of activities and accomplishments as I come to appreciation which colleagues prize “Being” over “Doing”.
Count the cost of cross-cultural ineffectiveness
Paul’s drive to adapt himself to the ways of Jew and Gentile, slave and free, grew from a heart changed by Jesus Christ. He did “all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings” (1 Cor 9:23).
Dr. Allen stressed the need to count the cost of not developing cross-cultural effectiveness. Missing out on CQ might mean losing our grasp on what it means to make disciples in the world at our doorstep.
May God grow in us a desire to explore the richness of his glory and see the stamp of His image in every culture.
Develop your CQ with us at the next Cultural Intelligence workshop, and find other upcoming events, on the CGE facebook page.