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The link between Emotional-Social Intelligence and Cultural Intelligence.

The link between Emotional-Social Intelligence and Cultural Intelligence

I am writing this post in response to a question posed about whether Emotional Intelligence is different from Cultural Intelligence.

I will explain how Emotional, Social and Cultural Intelligence converge, and why we need both.

A person with high emotional intelligence is able to grasp what makes us human, as well as what makes us different. They have high self-awareness that enables them to realise the impact of their thoughts, values and beliefs on their behaviour. This is critical when exploring Cultural Intelligence (CQ). Someone with a lack of self-awareness is unable to realise the impact of their biases or prejudices on others. They are hyper-involved in their own world, and what is right for them, as opposed to seeking to understand the experiences of others.

Furthermore, a person with high Emotional-Social Intelligence is able to build relational rapport and show empathy towards others different from themselves. 

Interestingly, research also shows that a person who has lived experience of cultures other than their own are more able to adopt the mores and even the body language of an unfamiliar culture because they are somewhat detached from their own culture. They’re used to being observers and making a conscious effort to fit in. Whereas, those who fully embody the habits and norms of their native culture may feel the most alien when they enter a culture not their own. This also links with the emotional intelligence competencies of adaptability, relationship skills, self-awareness, self-confidence and empathy.

When we explore culture from a uniquely Aotearoa, Te Āo Māori perspective, we are then charged with exploring cultural colonisation, bias and privilege and their impact. Identifying barriers to cultural responsiveness and inclusion and actions to dismantle these barriers (both personal and institutional) that need to change in order to create an inclusive culture is also part of the journey. Understanding our collective agreement in Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and how it’s tenants of Participation, Protection and Partnership are enacted both at a personal and organisational level is also key to developing cultural intelligence in our context.

The journey operates at both a personal and organisational level and requires both Emotional-Social and Cultural Intelligence.

There is so much more I could say but I will leave it here for discussion. 🙂

7 ways to become a more Emotionally Intelligent Leader Download

Want to know the 7 ways to become a more Emotionally Intelligent Leader?

Leading can be HARD, particularly as a female leader.

Challenging the accepted norms and narratives can be especially tricky. Alongside that you need to back yourself and silence the inner critic to be able to take the leap into something you have been yearning to take for ages. It takes courage and grit.

But what if there was a space you could do this that was safe and supportive. A space where you could become a soft and strong leader in your professional field. 

If this is you, then I would like to invite you to join me in my upcoming Soft and Strong Leadership for Women Seminar Series starting Monday, 1 March 2021.


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