With rapidly changing work environments caused by COVID-19, ongoing global trade wars and the increasing standards consumers are holding companies to, the need for cross-cultural competency has never been higher.
Organisations that upskill their people in cultural intelligence will be better able to negotiate smart deals with global partners, work with a broader range of clients, and lead company strategy in volatile times.
No matter how well-read you are on another country's culture, you need to be able to identify subtle cues that may influence your business decisions. These subtle cultural competencies affect our values, beliefs and cultural norms.
"Culture is like an iceberg. What you see above the sea level is just 10%. The rest is below the surface," says cultural intelligence expert Sunaina Vij.
"Culture is not just rituals — it's so much more."
If you work across global borders, you'll already be aware of the need for cross-cultural competency. But what most people don't realise, is that this is a key skill no matter how small your organisation is. Whether it's our age, our gender or where we grew up, we all come with cultural baggage. Building cross-cultural competency allows us to manage diverse teams and work with all kinds of people.
"When we don't know things about our culture, it's very hard to work together," says Sunaina. "If I'm a leader and I don't know how to work with people, it's very difficult. I first need to understand what my culture is and what clashes can happen. Why is my ex-team able to produce these results and my new team isn't? If I don't know where my cultural quotient lies how can I help others?"