Book Excerpt from Lead by Greatness: Cultural Intelligence

The following is an excerpt from the book Lead by Greatness.

Culturally intelligent leaders are the leaders of the future, and their companies will be the success stories of tomorrow.

People in foreign countries, from different cultures in your own country, and even within your own company understand that you will not always appreciate or practice their cultural norms. They make allowances for our ignorance, just as we do for people to whom our culture is foreign. However, when it comes to universal values like dignity, trust, and respect, very few people anywhere make allowances for cultural difference. All people always expect to be treated with dignity, no matter what culture they come from. The challenge is that different cultures view some words, attitudes, and gestures differently, and an unintentional wrong move can injure their dignity and erode their trust. Cultural intelligence is knowing how to uphold the dignity of people and quickly build their trust irrespective of their culture, faith, or nationality. This is particularly pertinent when doing business in emerging economies.

Conducting business successfully and forging enduring partnerships in emerging economies will power the next wave of growth for multinationals. U.S. companies recognize that as successful as their management methods have been for them in the past, they can no longer force "the American way" on their Asian or South American counterparts. As the economies of many emerging countries become immensely powerful in their own right, they are less inclined to have the U.S. dictate to them how to do business, even though the American market is still so important to them. American companies with subsidiaries in other countries are also encountering greater resistance to directives that are counter-cultural in those countries. Mastering cultural intelligence however, goes way beyond overcoming the challenges of differences between cultures. It offers a new and superb opportunity for economic advantage. I call this the arbitraging of cultural differences for economic advantage.

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