Cultural Intelligence – What’s your CQ?

James has worked for the same financial services company for 10 years.  The company structure has always been hierarchical and highly professional.  Six months ago the company was purchased by another financial services organization with a more horizontal structure and business casual approach.  James’s new supervisor arrived at work on the first day wearing khaki’s and insisting that he be called Bob by everyone versus Mr. Bennet.  James, clad in his usual pinstripe suit and professional demeanor felt intensely uncomfortable with this new arrangement and uncertain whether he could fit in to this environment.  After trying to adjust to casual dress and informal addresses James began to resent the changes as unprofessional and inappropriate and decided to leave the company.

In this simplistic example James can be considered to have low CQ.  Cultural Intelligence is defined by the individuals ability to adapt cognitively, physically and motivationally to new cultures whether organizational or ethnic.  Simply, CQ represents an individuals ability to successfully adapt and flourish in a changing environment.  An ability I think we can all agree is crucial to collaboration – particularly in the today’s dynamic economy.

In their article “Cultural Intelligence” (featured in Harvard Business Review) Early and Mosakowski presented a simple test to diagnose your own Cultural Intelligence:

Rate the following statements – remember “culture” applies to both organizational and ethnic:
1=strongly disagree, 2=disagree, 3=neutral, 4=agree, 5= strongly agree

_____ Before I interact with people from a new culture, I ask myself what I hope to achieve.
_____ If I encounter something unexpected while working in a new culture, I use this experience to figure out new ways to approach other cultures in the future.
_____ I plan how I am going to relate to people from a different culture before I meet them.
_____ When I come in to a new cultural situation, I can immediately sense whether something is going well or something is going wrong.
Total_____ /4 = ____ Cognitive CQ

_____ It is easy for me to change my body language (for example, eye contact or posture) to suit people from a different culture.
_____ I can alter my expression when a cultural encounter requires it.
_____ I modify my speech style (for example, accent or tone) to suit people from a different culture.
_____ I easily change the way I act when a cross-cultural encounter seems to require it.
Total_____/4= ____ Physical CQ

_____ I have confidence that I can deal well with people from a different culture.
_____ I am certain that I can befriend people whose cultural backgrounds are different from mine.
_____ I can adapt to the lifestyle of a different culture with relative ease.
_____ I am confident that I can deal with a cultural situation that is unfamiliar.
Total_____/4=____  Motivational (emotional) CQ

In this quiz the closer to 5 your average score is the higher your CQ.
(Earley, C & Mosakowski, E.  Harvard Business Review October 2004)
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How did you rate on the Cultural Intelligence scale?

Stay tuned, next week we will explore some strategies to increase CQ both individually and across an organization.

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About John

“John Abele is a pioneer and leader in the field of less-invasive medicine, For more than four decades, John has devoted himself to innovation in health care, business and solving social problems.” He is retired Founding Chairman of Boston Scientific Corporation. John holds numerous patents and has published and lectured extensively on the technology of various medical devices and on the technical, social, economic, and political trends and issues affecting healthcare. His major interests are science literacy for children, education, and the process by which new technology is invented, developed, and introduced to society. Current activities include Chair of the FIRST Foundation which works with high school kids to make being science-literate cool and fun, and development of The Kingbridge Centre and Institute, a conferencing institution whose mission is to research, develop, and teach improved methods for interactive conferencing: problem solving, conflict resolution, strategic planning, new methods for learning and generally help groups to become “Collectively intelligent.” He lives with his wife and two dogs in Shelburne, Vermont.”

3 thoughts on “Cultural Intelligence – What’s your CQ?

  1. Thanks for drawing attention to the CQ research John. I enjoyed perusing your blog a bit and appreciate the important contributions you make to the field of intelligence. You and your readers may be interested in an updated, fully online (and currently free) CQ assessment that stems from Earley et. al’s original work that was referenced in HBR. It’s available at and has been empirically validated across more than 30 countries. Best wishes in your ongoing work John!

  2. Pingback: Cultural Intelligence – Raise your CQ : Kingbridge Collaboration Blog

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