How Culturally Intelligent Professionals Thrive in a 21st-Century Workplace

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Managers and entrepreneurs are always seeking methods for improving efficiency and making their businesses successful. There are multiple ways to accomplish this but one of the most overlooked is seeking out employees with a high level of cultural intelligence.

Culturally Intelligent Workers Make Others Better

When companies bring in culturally intelligent employees, they often expect the workers to pick up the slack where others falter. After all, these professionals bring different experiences that contribute more diverse ideas. Recent research, however, has shown that having these globally-minded individuals in the workplace can actually make other employees better.

Studies have found that employees with diverse ideas will actually “stimulate creativity, spur insight and increase efficiency.” Individuals with cultural intelligence, especially those who aren't native to the country where the business is located, introduce ideas that can shatter the hindrance of “groupthink.” When employees aren't focused on conformity, the creative juices are allowed to flow.

Cultural Intelligence Opens International Doors

Having employees from different countries obviously introduces diversity into the 21st-century workplace. Just because a person is native to the company's country, however, doesn't mean they can't be culturally intelligent. The ability to recognize the differences between different cultures and identify “the division between individual idiosyncrasies and the cultural underpinnings of a particular group.”

In a world where business has gone global and people can perform job duties just as easily from the office or a different continent, this ability is invaluable. Culturally intelligent workers are capable of effectively interacting with coworkers from various backgrounds without stereotyping.
This means they can increase team cohesion exponentially. And while having traveled the world certainly increases cultural intelligence, an educational background with focus on cultural diversity can sometimes do just as well.

Cultural Intelligence Increases Profit

Breaking international barriers and boosting team creativity improve a business, but hiring culturally intelligent employees can make the company thrive in many other ways as well. By hiring these diversity-focused workers, an organization will effectively see what they do from a variety of perspectives. It's important to note that even individuals from the same country can come from completely different cultures; just imagine how different citizens from the Northern United States are from the Southern.

When you have employees who recognize differences and can acclimate to them, a business will know the best way to deal with almost anyone, and knowing how to appeal to customers affects the company’s bottom line, says Jim Sutcliffe, Managing Partner at Arboretum Partners LLP:

You need Cultural Intelligence to run a business today, because, in the long run, you will make more money. I know we have all thought business was about products, customers, finances and people, but it’s more than that now. You have to understand the context in which you are operating and the communities you are part of. You have to work with other sectors and, if you are international, in other countries, and you need it not just at the top, but right through the business. Without it, you won’t judge when to stand firm and when to give way, when to spend money, whether you like it or not. Without it, you will walk into impossible, messy situations that are sometimes at least partly of your own making. And, when the solutions do not lie in financial models, better products or new technologies, you will make bad judgments, because none of those things are much use when you are dealing with the media and politics, and you find yourself and your company in the public eye.

Businesses are no longer confined to their own little corners of the world. Tech advancements such as group chat, VoIP, task managers and file sharing tools have made the 21st-century workplace a global endeavor. Businesses that hope to thrive in this new world can do so by hiring employees with cultural intelligence. It's one of the best ways to prepare for the future of business.

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