Cultural, Emotional and Practical Intelligence

November 21st, 2015, by Francia Guzman, Managing Director, FBG Consulting

I recently had the opportunity to talk to a Latin American group on the topic of intelligence for leadership.  We all recognize that beyond the technical, functional and organizational competencies there is more required of a leader. Individuals who reach that level in the organization generally meet very well the above competencies. They get there because they have the knowledge, the experience and sufficient tenure to be effective. They are very capable on the specific aspects of their functions and meet well the organizational competencies.  However, not all have perfected other complementary forms of intelligence.

I must confess that in preparing for this presentation, I found an overwhelming amount of intelligence categories. Scholars are already mentioning new forms such as leadership intelligence and business intelligence as a ways to measure one’s capabilities. Regardless of the classification, intelligence implies the perception and retention of information that can be later applied in other situations.

These are three that are considered critical in today’s world and likely in the future, so it’s important for all leaders and aspiring leaders to have a strong focus in working on these types of intelligence.
Practical intelligence refers to what we know as “street savvy” and “common sense”. It’s about understanding the environment and using that knowledge to obtain goals. It allows the person to put things in context, defines viability of ideas and evaluates possibility of success. (Robert Sternberg)

Cultural intelligence talks to the capacity of individuals to interact and work effectively in different cultures and with diverse individuals. It’s about leveraging differences through inclusion in order to accomplish the business goals (Christopher Earley, Soon Ang and Dan Livermore)

Emotional intelligence talks about the ability to feel understand and apply the knowledge of emotions to facilitate collaboration and productivity. It’s about how well people know themselves so they can manage themselves better and to how much they understand and empathize with others in a manner that allows for them to manage their relationships effectively. (Daniel Goleman)

In order to exhibit practical intelligence the person must show ability to:

  • Adapt to things around them (Adapt)
  • Adapt the environment to their personal needs (Conform)
  • Find alternate environments better suited to their needs (Selection)
  • Show assertiveness to fit in and resolve practical situations (Efficiency)

In order to exhibit cultural intelligence the person must show:

  • Interest and confidence to function effectively with differences (cultural impulse)
  • Know how of differences and commonalities between cultures covering language, business and personal norms (Cultural Knowledge)
  • Identification and planning of experiences to ensure cultural effectiveness. It speaks to self-conscience and keeping unconscious biases under control (Cultural Strategy)
  • Ability to adapt to different cultures from a communication perspective in a verbal and non-verbal manner (Cultural Action)

In order to exhibit emotional intelligence the person must show:

  • Self-Awarenesss or understanding their own values, strengths, shortcomings and behaviors
  • Self-Management, which speaks of control of emotions, impulses, thinking before doing and being responsible about one’s actions
  • Social Awareness indicating empathy, understanding of others and the environment, knowledge of organizational and social values and
  • Relationship Management which covers creating a comfortable environment, inspiring, influencing and understanding the impact our actions have on others and building a network

This is what will make a difference in a dynamic and changing global environment where being bright is not enough.