An excerpt from Cultural Brilliance™ Radio:

What is this cultural intelligence and how do we tap into it?

It’s like emotional intelligence in a sense that it’s really, what I like to call, an energetic connection in a culture. As we see emotional intelligence emerge and sometimes we can’t quite put our finger on it, it’s not necessarily tangible but when it’s there, we know it and see it.

Cultural intelligence can be like that. It’s this intelligence that the culture holds and if we allow it to emerge, we allow it to unfold, it really will. Organizations will sometimes customize the conversation on culture in order to meet what the executives, what the leaders, want to see or hear.

This moves well beyond that. It says, whatever intelligence is actually here, we’re going to allow this to emerge. We’re going to allow it to unfold and we’re going to learn from it. We’re going to actually learn from our own organizational culture and see what it has to tell us.

It’s a lot about authenticity and it’s telling and accepting what’s actually part of a culture, what are all the great parts, what are the parts that maybe aren’t so great, and listening to what it has to tell us.

The word “authentic.” Let’s talk about that for a minute because that is not a word we hear too often here in organizations.

Sometimes we hear authentic leadership, we talk about people getting to be authentic. We don’t talk a lot about authentic culture. We think about culture, there’s lateral cultural design right now. That’s a hot topic.

In mergers and acquisitions, there’s lateral cultural integration, as there should be. How do two cultures integrate when there’s a merger or acquisition? We don’t throw out what is authentic in culture.

Authenticity in a culture is understanding things like: what are the observable norms about how people operate, what are the hidden ones, what are the ones beneath the water, if you’re thinking about some of the norms being the tip of an iceberg. What’s beneath that water?

It’s also understanding what is the best about us, as a culture and an organization. I don’t find a lot of organizations talking about that. Having a conversation about what’s best about us, what do we do really well, who we are as an organization. They may talk about values and mission, but they leave out this part about who are we as a workforce, who are we as an organization, what’s best about us, what’s true, and real, and authentic about who we are, which may be really positive. As I said, maybe some things that an organization may say, “Yeah, that’s authentic for us but we may want to shift and change that because it’s not serving us any longer.” And that’s completely fine.

But it’s really allowing the flow of the organizational evolution to unfold. Sometimes I’ll see organizations, for example, in a startup world, you see a great company form, someone had a great vision, they had a great passion, they started this company, it’s really doing well.

And then at some point, the company really is about to grow, it’s about to scale, it’s taking on off in a completely different way. I’ve seen examples where the culture is actually holding it back from doing that, or made it a lot harder for it to scale and grow in a rapid way because the culture that formed when the company was founded or started is not the culture that the organization now needs. So part of that authenticity is actually understanding how a culture needs to grow and evolve to track with the organization as it grows and evolves.

How does intelligence help us build a bridge between results and respect?

I think cultural intelligence helps build that bridge because if we assume that an intelligence that emerges is going to be positive and it can give us good information, you’re not going to have an intelligence that emerges. Most likely that says, “It will be important to disrespect people right now.”

As people, we’re toward with being respected. That’s really important to most of us, if not all of us. Cultural intelligence is going to bring forth things like: we need to treat our people better, we need to respect them, we need to listen to them, we need to understand what’s important to them, we need to stop treating them as another human resource or human capital.

I think what naturally evolves is people wanting to be more respected, wanting to be trusted. Trust is a foundation for so many other things. We’re starting to hear a lot more of that; respect, trust, let’s build a relationship, let’s be connected. That’s all the foundation of an organization and a culture really working well.

We’re talking about using our emotional intelligence in an authentic way. How do we talk to people in a way which they still feel respected and which we can be open and honest, in a way that’s as humanly kind as possible?

Listen to the full podcast and learn much more about cultural intelligence and authenticity.,22325.html