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Finding your cultural IQ

Syed Ahmed | April 17, 2014
What's your cultural IQ? Professor David C. Thomas kicked off this year's ‘Learn at Lunch' series at the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) with this compelling question.

I had taken their nods to mean acceptance, but they were simply nodding in acknowledgement of having heard my point of view.

Once I realised this, I had to change my approach to incorporate this cultural understanding. I re-framed the conversations to try to get their points of view out without trying to push mine first, and making sure at any agreement we reached as actually explicitly acknowledged as such.

Each organisation has its own unique culture as well. I've worked in a large variety of organisations, from two person to 10,000 strong consultancies, government departments, financial services institutions, and global system integrators.

While industry norms exist, company culture usually varies significantly between organisations of the same size in the same market. Many of the ideas discussed in the lecture can be adapted to a micro-level and used to intelligently navigate the culture at your organisation.

What does all of this mean for Australian CIOs?

Given the diversity of cultures that a CIO now has to deal with, it's well worth paying close attention to, and working on increasing your cultural intelligence.

For one, most Australian CIOs will be leading an organisation consisting of people with a range of backgrounds. Understanding and being able to interact with them in a culturally intelligent manner is key to getting the best out of your team and creating a high-performance work environment.

As we increase our adoption of the cloud, CIOs will also need to interact with vendors that are from and located in other regions and cultures.

Interacting effectively across regional cultures will be a crucial factor in creating strong, collaborative supplier relationships.

Doing business with people across the world is now the norm. CIOs, technology leaders and IT professionals need to ensure that cultural intelligence is an essential part of their skillset.


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