CEOs are measured by a number of things, namely performance, negotiation skills, and how hard they work.But there’s an emerging quality that will be demanded of all CEOs of the future: cultural intelligence.
A post at the HBR pointed out a new paper from Roy Chua of Harvard and Michael Morris of Columbia which finds that managers who can think intelligently about their cultural assumptions (have high ‘cultural metacognition’) are better at building trust and collaborating across cultures.
It’s not just about living abroad. It’s about asking about and understanding what parts of the culture shape perceptions.
Part of it is doing research and avoiding awkward jokes and misunderstandings, but it’s also not shutting down after such an event, learning from it, and still building a close relationship.
Those with higher cultural awareness were trusted at significantly higher rates by people from other cultures:
Successfully sharing ideas requires trust, which can be difficult to build when cultural differences remain unacknowledged or misunderstood.
Some of the most successful CEOs of our time have demonstrated high cultural intelligence. Think of Carlos Ghosn, born in Brazil, able to turn around an entrenched corporate culture in Japan, and now the CEO of both Nissan and French automaker Renault.
He’s now such a folk hero in Japan that a comic book has been published chronicling his exploits.
The business world is increasingly international. Companies are increasingly selling goods and sourcing talent from countries like India and China, rather than just manufacturing there.
Investors in the Gulf and elsewhere are increasingly becoming activists and a factor in large mergers.
All of that is going to require CEOs as adept moving across cultures as they are in their home market.
Find the full paper here
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