Cultural Intelligence

Best Books For Developing Cultural Intelligence For Project And Program Managers


As someone who works in project and program management, I know how challenging it can be to navigate different cultures and work effectively with people from diverse backgrounds. You may feel frustrated or challenged by cultural differences and want to develop your skills in this area to achieve greater success with your projects and events. I am excited to share my top 10 book recommendations for enhancing cultural intelligence (CQ).

You may have questions such as:

  • How can I improve my cross-cultural communication skills?
  • What are the best strategies for leading teams from diverse backgrounds?
  • How can I navigate cultural differences in a global business environment?
  • What are the best books for developing cultural intelligence, and why?

The International Journal of Cross-Cultural Management found that training in cultural intelligence increased job satisfaction and improved cross-cultural communication (  

These books will provide valuable insights and practical strategies for working across cultures and achieving success in your projects and events.

  1. Cultural Intelligence: Improving Your CQ to Engage Our Multicultural World” by David Livermore. Livermore’s book is an excellent starting point for building cultural intelligence. It offers a comprehensive introduction to CQ and provides a framework for developing your skills in this area. The book contains real-world examples and practical tips for improving cross-cultural interactions.

  1. The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business” by Erin Meyer. Meyer’s book is a must-read for anyone who wants to excel in global business. It provides a fascinating analysis of cultural differences and offers practical advice for working effectively with people from different backgrounds. Meyer’s approach is based on extensive research and real-world experience, making this book a valuable resource for anyone in project and program management.

  1. The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking” by Edward Burger and Michael Starbird. While not solely focused on cultural intelligence, “The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking” offers valuable insights into thinking more critically and creatively. It provides strategies for approaching problems in new ways and encourages readers to challenge their assumptions. These skills are essential for anyone in project and program management, where creative problem-solving and flexibility are crucial.

  1. The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life” by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander. This book offers a unique perspective on leadership and creativity. It encourages readers to adopt a mindset of possibility and provides strategies for unlocking their creative potential. The authors draw on their experience as a conductor and therapist to offer insights into how to lead and inspire others. This book is an excellent resource for anyone looking to inspire and motivate their team.

  1. Culture Is The Bass: 7 Steps to Creating High Performing Teams ” by Gerald J. Leonard. Leonard’s book offers insights into the dynamics of successful teams and organizations. It provides practical advice for building a strong team culture and strategies for creating an environment where people feel safe to take risks and share ideas. This book is an excellent resource for anyone looking to build a high-performing project and program management team.

  1. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High” by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. In project and program management, there are often high-stakes conversations that need to take place. This book offers valuable strategies for handling these conversations effectively. It provides practical tips for managing emotions, listening actively, and achieving mutual understanding. This book is an essential resource for anyone looking to improve their communication skills in cross-cultural contexts.

  1. The Power of Positive Leadership: How and Why Positive Leaders Transform Teams and Organizations and Change the World” by Jon Gordon. This book offers a refreshing take on leadership, emphasizing the importance of positivity and resilience. It provides strategies for building a positive team culture and practical advice for leading in challenging times. This book is an excellent resource for anyone looking to inspire and motivate their project and program management team.

  1. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses” by Eric Ries. While not focused on cross-cultural communication, “The Lean Startup” offers valuable insights into approaching innovation and change. It provides strategies for testing and validating ideas quickly, which is crucial in project and program management. Ries’ approach emphasizes the importance of iteration and learning from failures, essential skills when working across cultures and adapting to different contexts.

  1. The Three-Box Solution: A Strategy for Leading Innovation” by Vijay Govindarajan. Govindarajan’s book offers a framework for managing innovation in organizations. It provides a practical approach to balancing the need for efficiency with the need for innovation, which is especially relevant in project and program management. The book offers a clear and concise approach to leading innovation, making it a valuable resource for any professional looking to drive organizational change.

  1. Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change” by William Bridges. In project and program management, change is a constant. Bridges’ book offers a framework for understanding and managing transitions effectively. It provides practical strategies for supporting individuals and teams through change and offers insights into the emotional journey of transformation. This book is a valuable resource for anyone looking to lead change initiatives in their organization and manage the human aspect of transitions.

The benefits of reading and learning from these top 10 books for cultural intelligence include:

  • Improved cross-cultural communication skills.
  • Enhanced ability to lead and work effectively with diverse teams.
  • Increased empathy and understanding of different cultures.
  • Improved collaboration and teamwork.
  • Increased innovation and creativity.
  • Greater success in global business environments.

Cultural intelligence is essential for anyone working in project and program management. These ten books offer valuable insights and practical strategies for improving cross-cultural communication skills, leading change initiatives, and building high-performing teams. Investing in your cultural intelligence can make you a more effective leader and collaborator, achieve greater success in your projects and events, and contribute to a more inclusive and diverse workplace culture. So why not start reading today?

Cultural Intelligence

Cultural Intelligence And Diversity


To maintain diversity in the workplace, it’s important to consider cultural intelligence or EQ. What is cultural intelligence? It is when coworkers of different backgrounds are able to work together effectively. 

Workplace Diversity 

These days, companies are interested in hiring workers with different cultural backgrounds. While this is a great goal, putting it into action is challenging. You’ll want to embrace CQ to bring diverse talent into your organization and make sure that your company’s hiring steps are unbiased. 

What are the Benefits of a Diverse Workforce? 

A diverse workforce includes different races, gender identities, generations, nationalities and abilities. It’s important to be able to leverage their differences. When you have a workforce that is different and fail to focus on CQ, you’re likely to have a work environment with misaligned expectations and conflict issues. 

Your company is more likely to experience deadlock situations and decreased productivity if you don’t implement CQ. However, when a diverse team has high CQ, research shows that they outproduce a homogeneous workforce in all areas. This includes innovation, leadership, making decisions and establishing trust. 

Ensuring Equity 

To establish equity, plan to vigorously challenge and react to individual and universal biases. Continue this mindset when it comes to behavioral policies and practices. These steps will help you ensure that everyone in your company has equal access to work opportunities. 

Guaranteeing Inclusion 

Promoting a work atmosphere where employees with a variety of identities feel important to the team, valued and useful is an important part of managing diverse teams.  

Keep in mind that diversity focuses on representation while inclusion is about welcoming diversity. Inclusion will help you create a work atmosphere in which every worker thrives. 

The pandemic and economic issues have pinpointed how fast some companies are ignoring their commitments to diversity and inclusion. When a crisis occurs, it’s natural to turn to a safe management style. This often means preserving and promoting workers who you already trust and rejecting employees who you don’t think understand the country’s culture. Try to avoid returning to these old techniques and continue to embrace the diverseness of your team. 

What are the Struggles with Cultural Diversity?

Managing workers of different cultures is challenging. Western management techniques like intense brainstorming sessions, contributive management and immediate negative feedback is often uncomfortable for workers of other cultures. 

The United States work culture is task-based. This means that decision makers will quickly fly wherever needed to complete a work transaction while relationship-based cultures make decisions slowly. They take the time to get to know the person who they are doing business with.  

When managing diverse teams, consider how to lead cultures that are task-based and those that are based on relationships. You’ll need to embrace a flexible management style. 

Turning a Risk into an Asset 

According to a study of workers from 90 different countries, an estimated 89% of them worked on global virtual teams. Cultural intelligence will help you turn a risk to your business into an asset. Companies that have well-maintained diversity programs thrive and outperform the competition. If you need guidance, contact me at the Productivity Intelligence Institute. 

Cultural Intelligence

Cultural Intelligence For Leaders 


Why Your Organization’s Leaders Must Have High Cultural Intelligence 

The world is home to thousands of different cultural groups. With the increasing importance of international trade, an entrepreneur is more likely than ever to interact with people from a wide array of cultures. When you communicate with people from different countries, religious groups, and linguistic communities, you want to have a positive experience. Failure to adapt to a multicultural business environment will seriously hamper your organization’s success, so check out these three important ways that leading with high cultural intelligence can improve your organization. 

Stronger Relationships With Clients and Suppliers

People from different parts of the world are going to respond differently to your products, services, and ways of doing business. On a sales trip to Germany, you might benefit from taking a direct approach and getting down to business right away. However, you probably won’t get a good deal if you try this approach when you meet a potential supplier in Argentina for the first time. Instead, you would want to get to know the supplier personally and relax for some time before bringing up anything about a potential business relationship. Refusing to sensitively engage with your customers and suppliers will have dire consequences for your organization, so it’s important to develop good cultural intelligence to avoid wasting time and offending anyone.

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Better Hiring Practices

To bring your company to the top, you need a skilled team of dedicated employees. By adopting more inclusive hiring practices, you’ll be able to reach the broadest pool of talent to find the best professionals in the world. To acquire talent in a particular country or region, you must understand what applicants from that area value in a position and find out where they tend to look for jobs. 

For example, if you want to hire remote workers in India, then you shouldn’t just post positions on American job sites. While offering paid holiday leave for the late-December holiday season might appeal to Western applicants, it won’t be very appealing to a marketing professional in Mumbai who celebrates Diwali with her family in October. To attract the strongest candidates, you must be willing to learn more about potential employees’ cultural norms and values, take a nuanced approach when reviewing applicants, and offer benefits that fit global candidates’ cultural and economic realities.

Greater Workplace Harmony

As an entrepreneur, you benefit when everyone in your company gets along. When your employees come from a wide range of cultural, religious, and national backgrounds, there is some risk of cultural friction. With enough cultural intelligence, you can foresee potential problems and take steps to prevent them before they affect workplace productivity.

Good Intercultural Competence Is Vital in the 21st Century

The importance of international commerce and intercultural cooperation will only grow in the foreseeable future. By adopting strong intercultural competence now, you’ll set your organization up to succeed for decades to come. You need the right skills and knowledge to make your company a global leader in its field, so don’t forget to check out our other useful articles on intercultural competence, entrepreneurship, and agile leadership.

Cultural Intelligence

Cultural Intelligence For Employees


Developing Cultural Intelligence for Your Employees

Several factors are making businesses reexamine how they function in the world. An increasingly diverse workforce means that team members will have different backgrounds and points of view. The expanding global marketplace involves more cooperation between multicultural partners. Leaders and their employees can no longer assume that their way is the only way of conducting business.

The Need for Cultural Intelligence in the Global Economy

In the past, understanding culture involved recognizing the difference between cultural practices. Leaders needed to know when to shake hands, offer a gift, or exchange respectful bows. This information was helpful when meetings with global partners were infrequent. Today, a single remote team might have members in several countries gathering for regular virtual meetings. It is not enough to know a few local customs.

Culture and Perception

Emerging neuroscience shows that cultural upbringing affects the way people perceive the world. Different neural networks light up in brain scans of people presented with the same information. Differences at a neurological level will have practical effects when a multicultural team tries to communicate, problem-solve, or work toward a common goal.

What Contributes to a High CI?

Cultural intelligence is the ease with which a person can navigate a multicultural context. Individuals with a high CI find it stimulating to connect with people different from them. They are comfortable allowing others to lead interactions while they deepen their understanding. Increasing CI requires the development of several soft skills.


The first step in understanding other cultures is acknowledging your own. Understanding how your upbringing affects your view of reality will better equip you to work with others. People with a high CI are aware of their personal biases and blind spots.


Developing this intelligence requires nurturing curiosity. Many people deal with cultural differences by labeling them right or wrong. Intelligence requires acknowledging differences without judgment and learning more about them. A coworker’s way of handling a problem may offer insight into your own process.

Listening Skills

Listening is a sign of respect. Historically, leaders in the West learned to put a premium on self-confidence. Developing CI means stepping back and allowing others to lead conversations. Recognizing a colleague’s rhythms and thought patterns provides a stronger foundation for cooperation.


People who succeed in a multicultural context recognize that their traditional way of seeing or handling things is not universal. They can adapt their style to make it more comfortable for the people around them, especially when cultural differences create a friction point.

Leading by Example

As a leader, the best way to develop CI in your workplace is to grow and demonstrate it yourself. Create space for team members to describe their perceptions. Demonstrate curiosity by asking questions when appropriate. Be open about mistakes you make along the way. Evolving humility and empathy will help you and your employees navigate this new territory.

Working with a Transformative Partner

There are great changes happening in the business world, and everyone needs help now and then. If you would like a partner for entrepreneurial growth, Productivity Intelligence Institute would be happy to work with you. Contact us today to learn more.

Cultural Intelligence

How To Improve Your Company’s Cultural Intelligence


These days, good cultural intelligence is integral to any team’s success. Members of your team are likely communicating with clients, suppliers, employees, freelancers, and regulators from a multitude of backgrounds, so they need to understand different ways of thinking to productively interact with these people. With that in mind, you should check out this quick guide on how to improve cultural intelligence in your organization.

Foster a Comfortable Workplace

Naturally, when one of your employees feels uncomfortable, you want them to speak up so that the company can address the issue. However, workers at many companies don’t feel comfortable providing input or pointing out managerial mistakes. On top of paving the way for a hostile work environment, this can have the unintended effect of allowing instances of cultural insensitivity to persist. That’s why managers must ensure that team members are able to freely communicate their concerns without fear of reprisal.

Conduct Cultural Sensitivity Training

Cultural sensitivity training is a great way to familiarize your team members with the broad strokes of multiculturalism. This will improve workplace harmony and help broaden your employees’ perspectives. Many companies conduct cultural sensitivity training, so you should work with whichever one has the most experienced staff.

Expand Your Company’s Recruitment Practices

How does your organization usually find new employees? Does your HR department post to a handful of websites? Do your interns only come from a single institution? Does your recruitment process rely heavily on word of mouth? Limited hiring practices expose your organization to a narrower range of applicants. In turn, your company is more likely to have a homogenous workforce. Adopting new recruiting practices will expose your company to a larger range of applicants from a variety of backgrounds, which can only benefit your organization.

Understand Your Audience’s Culture

A lack of intercultural competence isn’t only bad for your team’s comfort and productivity, but it can also negatively affect sales. Many things that are completely mundane in your region can be very significant in another part of the world. For example, in China, the number four is considered extremely unlucky. In turn, designs that prominently feature the number four are unlikely to do well in this market. You don’t want a cultural faux pas to waste your organization’s limited time and money, so your managers should consult with experts who intimately understand the culture of your target market before pouring resources into new designs and ad campaigns.

High Intercultural Competence Leads to Greater Entrepreneurial Success

A workforce with high intercultural competence is more equipped to succeed in the modern business landscape. If your company doesn’t value intercultural competence, then it will eventually fall behind the competition. You want your organization to thrive, so make sure to keep an open mind and do everything in your power to promote cultural intelligence in your workplace.

Cultural Intelligence

Cultural Intelligence In The Workplace


Why Cultural Intelligence Is a Crucial Part of Any Workplace 

As international commerce continues to expand, the average business can expect to interact with a more diverse range of people. These days, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to interact with a buyer from Sri Lanka, a supplier from Tanzania, and an employee from Lebanon all within a matter of minutes. Most companies’ employees will likely engage with people from many cultures, and nobody wants their workers to make any cultural faux pas. Thus, if you want your business to be more inclusive and succeed in the global marketplace, then you need to read this helpful guide on cultural intelligence and how to make it an integral aspect of your workplace culture.

What Is Cultural Intelligence?

Interests, values, and social norms vary widely between social groups based on income, religion, nationality, language, and several other factors. All of these different aspects of a person’s cultural background influence how they understand and interact with the world. Cultural intelligence is the ability to understand these varying customs, see the world from multiple viewpoints, and effectively navigate sociocultural differences.

Why Is Understanding Other Cultures So Vital?

Considering the global nature of the modern business landscape, it’s more important than ever to be able to understand and work with all kinds of people from around the world. First and foremost, you don’t want members of your organization to accidentally offend customers, suppliers, or other employees by being ignorant of their cultural norms. Moreover, products, services, and marketing campaigns will perform differently among different social groups. In an era where global commerce continues to expand, organizations must understand their target markets and the cultures of their suppliers to maintain long-term prosperity.

How Can You Promote Cultural Sensitivity Within Your Business?

Building and maintaining intercultural competence isn’t as easy as hosting an occasional seminar or hiring a specialized HR professional. Your organization also shouldn’t just emphasize cultural sensitivity in public-facing roles. To build effective intercultural competence within your organization, you must integrate cultural sensitivity into every aspect of the workplace. 

This means that you should have regular multicultural training programs for all employees. Teams that engage with people of a certain culture must have a deep understanding of the culture in question. Your company’s employee handbook should have clear protocols for how to deal with instances of cultural insensitivity. The marketing department must develop an in-depth understanding of all of the different regions and sociocultural groups that it aims to appeal to. To succeed in the modern business landscape, your organization must take a holistic approach to cultural sensitivity. Otherwise, your company will not be able to compete as different groups continue to gain greater representation in the global marketplace.

Intercultural Competence Is Integral to Success

A good workplace culture can’t exist without inclusivity and cultural sensitivity. The days when companies only interacted with and appealed to narrow groups of people are over. Without strong intercultural competence in every facet of your organization, it will not be able to sustain long-term success. Therefore, if your company doesn’t have a solid framework to build and maintain cultural sensitivity, then your managers and executives need to work together to come up with a plan before it’s too late.

Cultural Intelligence

Why Is Cultural Intelligence Important?


The world is becoming more and more interconnected. As a consequence of this, people from a variety of cultures, ethnicities, religions, and nationalities are working with each other every day to bring the greatest products and services to the global market. You want your enterprise to remain competitive. Thus, to stay on top in the modern business landscape, you should consider the following benefits of improving your firm’s cultural intelligence.  

Improve Workplace Harmony

Cultural misunderstandings are very common in the modern workplace. However, some basic sensitivity training can give employees the tools and knowledge necessary to avoid offending their fellow workers. Such training is very easy to conduct and doesn’t cost much, but it can make a huge difference for everyone in the firm. At the end of the day, your company will always benefit when employees understand and respect each other’s cultures

Understand Customers and Markets

The same product can perform very differently in different countries and regions for a variety of reasons. Moreover, a product’s success is heavily tied to its marketing. If a company does not understand the general cultural norms of every one of its markets, then its products may underperform or even offend certain demographics. By understanding the different cultures and groups of people in all of your markets, you can tailor your firm’s message and effectively appeal to a broader range of clients.

Maintain a Good Reputation

Customers don’t want to do business with a company that makes cultural faux pas. People around the world value equity between different groups more than ever. Thus, it’s important for everyone in your company to be aware of their biases so that the firm can project an image of acceptance and inclusivity. The public will notice and appreciate a brand that treats people well across all cultures, and they’ll also notice the companies that don’t make an effort. 

Impress Qualified Talent

Employees are the backbone of your firm. Without qualified employees, your company simply can’t compete on a global scale. These days, workers don’t have to settle for organizations that don’t respect their cultural values. Consequently, if your company doesn’t make a strong effort to appeal to individuals of many cultures and social groups, then it will miss out on the best talent. Eventually, this will cause the business to fall behind the competition. Your next employee of the month could come from anywhere in the world, so it’s vital that your firm’s recruiters and HR professionals are well-versed in the norms and values of as many cultures as possible.

Strengthen Your Business With Better Cultural Intelligence

All kinds of markets continue to expand across the globe every day. If you’re not doing everything in your power to boost your firm’s cultural intelligence, then your company won’t be able to keep pace with the evolution of global commerce. Unless you want your company to fall behind, it needs to strengthen cultural awareness at all levels of the business. With good cultural awareness, your company can serve its customers more effectively than ever and make the world a better place for everyone.

Cultural Intelligence

What is Cultural Intelligence?


Use Cultural Intelligence to Power Your Productivity

You’ve heard about business intelligence and emotional intelligence. If you want to increase your ability to manage high-performing teams, however, you need to learn more about cultural intelligence or CQ. In today’s increasingly diverse workplace, your ability to adapt to these changes will enhance your interactions and 

What Is Cultural Intelligence?

Simply put, it means having the ability to work with people of different cultures and backgrounds. It goes beyond tolerance and acceptance. When we expand our knowledge of other people and what they bring to the workplace, we relate to them with empathy and understanding. 

How does this relate to your productivity at work? An appreciation of culturally different beliefs, values and work styles will give you an edge when it comes to managing projects and people. You’ll improve your ability to communicate with others, enhance cooperation and avoid conflicts. In today’s increasingly global marketplace, your ability to understand and appreciate other cultures will give you a competitive edge.

Cross-Cultural Leadership Is in Demand

According to an article in Organizational Culture, “A core skill that organizations are looking for in their project managers today is the capacity to lead manage global change initiatives in a way that considers the human and social aspects and respects the people affected.” 

Today, successfully managing teams involves understanding the behaviors, motivations and attitudes of people from different backgrounds and cultures. 

Leading with Cultural Intelligence: Your 4-Step Plan

1. Improve your ability to recognize emotions

High-performing people often experience high levels of stress and anxiety. How good are you at reading your team members’ emotions? Studies have found that people are good at recognizing emotions in members of their own cultural group but have difficulty doing the same thing cross-culturally. This lack of understanding can lead to conflict and misunderstanding. According to an article in the NeuroLeadership Journal, “Identifying emotions from facial expressions is an important people skill for effective leadership.” 

How do you improve this skill? Research suggests that being open to learning is key to success in this area. Regular interactions with people from other cultures will actually rewire your brain to be more receptive and flexible. 
Leaders with high CQ “enjoy intercultural interactions and are confident that they can achieve their goals during such interactions.” Acknowledge that others express emotions differently, and listen to them when they express emotions. Put yourself in their shoes as you consider what they’ve expressed. Over time, it will become natural to interpret their emotions.

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2. Rewire your brain with regular cultural interactions

In a fascinating article titled “This Is Your Brain on Culture,” the authors describe a study by scientist Ying-Yi Hon. It looked at the cultural wiring of Chinese and American students at the University of Illinois. The Chinese students had newly arrived in the U.S. 

During the study, all the students received brain scans while they viewed the same pictures. An analysis revealed, “There was a consistent difference between the neural activities that occurred in the American students versus the Chinese.” For instance, in a picture of a sheep standing in a hotel lobby, American students focused on the sheep, and Chinese students focused on the lobby. Chinese students were also more likely to feel anxiety about the strangeness of the picture.

What made Hong’s research more interesting, however, is that she repeated the study several months later. This time, she found that the brain scans of the Chinese students were now more like those of the American students. Hong concluded that cultural differences are real, but they are not permanent. When it comes to culture, our neurological wiring is flexible. 

What does this mean for you as a business executive or project manager? It shows that a culturally diverse environment enriches everyone. People from different backgrounds and cultures can understand each other if they work together on shared goals. If you have the opportunity to work with a culturally diverse team, embrace it. Your differences may seem sharp at the beginning, but you will become a productive team.

3. Learn the business customs of other cultures

Leading with cultural intelligence means understanding the rituals, beliefs and customs of other countries. In some countries, for instance, it is considered rude to show up for a meeting right on time. In others, the exchange of small gifts or business cards is considered essential to any business meeting. 

In an article for Psychology Today, CQ expert Marie-Therese Claes writes that developing your CQ means understanding what different words mean in diverse cultures. “One of the problems in international relations is the misunderstanding that happens because we all speak the ‘international language’ of English but use English words with our own native meaning.”

An understanding of that gap will increase your ability to make meaningful connections with business partners from all backgrounds and cultures. If you want to operate on a global level, this knowledge will help you navigate the global workplace with ease. Some of us learn these skills by living and working in other countries, but you don’t have to travel the world to gain this knowledge. You don’t need to become an expert in other cultures. You just need to have an open, inclusive mindset. 

4. Assess your CQ level

In a case study published in the Harvard Business Review, researchers developed a CQ assessment scale that can help you see where your beliefs about other people and cultures might affect your productivity. We all have strengths and weaknesses when attempting to cross the cultural bridge. Knowing yours is an excellent starting point.

Enhance Your CQ to Increase Your Productivity

At the Leonard Productivity Institute, we specialize in helping project managers and executives increase their productivity through the proven science of neurological rewiring. Our evidence-based solutions can help you achieve the levels of success you deserve. To learn more, contact us today.