Leading with Cultural Intelligence

Leading with Cultural Intelligence

The New Secret to Success

AMACOM, 2009 more...

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The boundaries between countries and cultures blur more each day. After all, you can buy a Starbucks latte at the airport in Guam or Shanghai. Advances in communication, the Web and global expansion have made the world even smaller. But don’t be fooled, cautions consultant and trainer David Livermore. You can’t do business in São Paulo the same way as in Munich, even if you are drinking the same latte. Livermore doesn’t teach the customs and habits of various cultures. Instead, he provides a four-step framework for navigating cultural contexts. He identifies the four elements of CQ: “drive, knowledge, strategy and action.” Each one calls upon a set of skills you can apply whether you’re trying to relate to your teenager’s Goth friend, negotiate with a Mexican executive or open a new office in Israel. getAbstract thinks anyone who deals with people from varied cultures – and who doesn’t – will find this cross-cultural leadership guide as essential as a passport.


Being Smart Across Borders

“Cultural intelligence” (CQ) is the “capability to function effectively across national, ethnic and organizational cultures.” In today’s global business environment, CQ is necessary for effective leadership. Most leaders interact cross-culturally in numerous ways every day. Some managers travel the world, dealing with unfamiliar foods, customs and business rituals. Others are simply trying to manage the diversity in their own offices. Familiar sights and signs may surround you in any airport where Starbucks sells vanilla lattes, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that you can conduct business the same way everywhere. As similar as people and environments may seem, you must adjust your style, manner and even sense of humor to suit your audience’s culture. Culture is, loosely, “any group of people who have a shared way of seeing and making sense of the world.”

Leaders must cultivate cultural intelligence so they have the ability to:

  • “Understand diverse customers” – The typical customer no longer exists. As cultures converge, managers must understand the nuances of varied target audiences.
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About the Author

David Livermore, Ph.D., is a global consultant and trainer specializing in cultural intelligence. He is the executive director of the Global Learning Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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