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Cultural EQ: an essential skill for global coaches bridging cultures

When working with a client, it is essential for us as coaches to have an understanding of their underlying beliefs as well as expectations. As these are often culturally embedded, a coach working across cultures needs both Cultural and Emotional Intelligence (CQ & EQ) in order to identify, understand, and openly discuss them in a coaching session.


So the question is, how can we develop ourselves as coaches to increase both our CQ & EQ? I believe that as leadership coaches working with global teams, it is essential to blend both one’s CQ & EQ development, and have therefore created the following coaching model: Cultural EQ for Global Communication.


Emotional intelligence skills are critical for building relationships and teams, resolving conflict, solving problems, leading effectively and building resilience. As Cultural Intelligence is related to Emotional Intelligence, working on them together is a perfect way to develop the confidence and know-how to coach effectively across cultures.


Coaches with high EQ are sensitive to people's feelings and needs, and understand how their own emotions and behavior impact those around them. But they need additional skills if they're to understand the cultural factors at play and adapt their own communication skills accordingly.


By developing one’s EQ & CQ, a coach will be more aware of the values, beliefs, and attitudes of people from different cultures, and will have the skills to respond with informed empathy, genuine understanding, and impact.


Cultural Intelligence:


Cultural Intelligence is the ability to adapt to new cultural settings. Cultural Intelligence is also known as Cultural Quotient (CQ), which is derived from IQ. People with high CQ aren't experts in every kind of culture. Rather, they have the skills to go into new environments with confidence, and to make informed judgments based on their observations.


People with high CQ excel at understanding unfamiliar or ambiguous behavior. They are able to identify shared influences among groups, and this allows them to identify the impact of a particular culture which is essential in today's global environment.


However, they also know that cultural influences are complex and interconnected. They understand that while culture is important, factors such as professional roles, generational differences and individual personalities also have a powerful effect on behavior, too.


What are the advantages of developing Cultural Intelligence?


Developing your Cultural Intelligence helps you to work effectively as a coach with anyone who's different from you. When working with clients on a global scale, CQ can prevent you from making cultural errors that can cause confusion and embarrassment, or potentially undermine your client’s progress.


CQ can also give you insights into the culture of every individual or organization that you work with. The more you understand their values, the better you'll be at playing by their cultural 'rules' and adjusting your own.


Emotional Intelligence:


Emotional intelligence skills are critical for developing empathy, intuition and relationships; as well as resolving conflict, solving problems, and building resilience.



The Cultural EQ model


Paired with a global mindset and empathy, cultural difference can serve as a strength for coaches working across cultures. This model accompanies you (or your organization) on the journey towards successful global communication.


It can help achieve powerful, sustainable results around topics such as:

  • Increasing self-awareness, including values, strengths, and blind spots

  • Remaining calm, centered, and grounded

  • Increasing your cultural intelligence and ability to communicate effectively across cultures and generations

  • Developing emotional intelligence leading to improved coaching performance and life balance

  • Deepening presence and positively influencing others


Two questions that are very helpful to start off with revolve around strategy & action in Cultural Intelligence:

  1. Can you plan for differences before interacting with a client from a different corporate, national or generational culture? (this is connected to CQ Strategy)

  2. What’s your level of flexibility when encountering cultural behaviors and preferences of these teams, leaders, or organizations? (this is connected to CQ Action)

Final thoughts:


in our global world with many of our coaching sessions taking place in our virtual world of today, many coaches communicate across cultures daily.


You may not need to immerse yourself in your client country's culture (as you may well be in your office at home), however, developing Cultural EQ is still of vital importance in order to ensure successful communication, empathy, and benefit.

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