Cultural Intelligence: a must-have trait for future leaders

Cross-cultural communication for international students job and internships search

Cultural intelligence (CQ), defined as “an outsider’s seemingly natural ability to interpret someone’s unfamiliar and ambiguous gestures the way that person’s compatriots would” by Harvard Business Review, has been increasingly recognized as an essential aptitude and skills in global talent. It is especially important and relevant for international students as their workplace will likely be companies and organizations with a global presence and employees from different countries, races, and language groups.

A recent article by Times Higher Education shared that Shuvo Saha, director of Google’s Digital Academy described CQ as “a new talent test for next generation of leaders”. Mr. Saha summarized CQ in several distinct abilities:

  1. ability to retrospect on one’s performance and seek growth actively
  2. ability to collaborate with and learn from others
  3. ability to transform challenges into opportunities for growth

Mr. Saha also pointed out that the development of these skills must happen outside of an academic setting.

Forbes defines CQ as “a system consisting of three interactive components – cultural knowledge, cross-cultural skills, and cultural metacognition”. While cultural knowledge can be obtained through reading, watching TV, and traveling, the latter two can be acquired most effectively through experiential learning.

While focusing on academic studies is expected of international students, it is equally important that they sharpen their intercultural competence.



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