Cultural intelligence

Julia Middleton has always wanted to change the world. She does this by running Common Purpose, an international charity that implements leadership development programmes in 18 countries across the world.

Julia’s essentials:

  1. Cultural Intelligence is not only the ability to deal with people from different parts of the world, but with people from different fields, different corporate cultures or different generations. To put it bluntly: to deal with people who are not like us.

  2. Two notions help us to understand our culture: the core and the flex. Our core is what we cannot change: if we stop doing it, we are not ourselves anymore. Our flex is what we can easily change, anything we are ready to compromise on.

  3. The more flexible we are in our flex, the more trust we will get.
    The more solid we are in our core, the more trust we will get.

  4. Some of the things that are in our core are preconceived ideas or bias: we can move them in our flex. Others we cannot. It’s up to each of us.

  5. The trouble is that each of us have different core and flex. What belongs to my core may belong to your flex. That’s where conflicts start.

  6. It’s best to ask about the values or ideas of the other person than to assume them. Cultural intelligence is about navigating between the core and flex of the people we relate to.

  7. Last but not least: we can work with people who do not have the same core as we do. In fact, nobody – even our children – has the same core as us.

  8. Even better: a team with people from different generations, different parts of the world or different corporate cultures will be more efficient and able to solve intricate problems.

Conflict management

George Kohlrieser is an American psychologist and a former hostage negotiator who introduced the hostage negotiation metaphor to leadership development. He created and directs the High Performance Leadership programme at one of the world's leading business schools in Switzerland.

George’s essentials:

  1. Our brain is hardwired for survival, threat and danger in order to protect us from potential pain. To stay positive is indeed a choice and it will deeply influence the outcome of any critical situation.

  2. If we feel powerless, helpless, disconnected, unable to persuade, we should think about what holds us hostage. Our life is full of hostage takers: our boss, our family … even ourselves. We may be hostages of our own emotions, regrets or expectations.

  3. When we are held hostage by a boss, a colleague or someone from our team, we have to create a bond with the hostage taker and maintain it in all circumstances, even if we are emotionally upset. We have to understand his motivation: it’s always about loss or injustice.

  4. Conflict is not about benefits, it’s about loss: loss of territories, loss of attachment, loss of structure, loss of future, disappointment, separation, death.

  5. To be a good leader, we need to understand the fundamental need of bonding and grieving. Conflict might be an opportunity to grieve for something lost and to strengthen a bond.

  6. A lot of conflicts keep going on because we are afraid to put the fish on the table and clean it. We need to face conflict, it’s usually a bloody mess, but once cooked the fish is delicious.

  7. Always stay in dialogue. No matter what the answer is. The answer might be negative but it’s an answer. It’s still a bond. Bonding is the antidote to most conflict situation.

Collective intelligence

Vincent Lenhardt (2018 edition) is a consultant and former president of the French Transactional Analysis Association. He introduced the practice of leadership coaching in France and worked for many big French companies. He is convinced that leaders must be responsible, aim at a meaningful goal and know how to communicate it.

Vincent’s essentials:

  1. How do we get individuals to belong to a team? We need to learn how to listen to people: to the spoken word AND to the non-verbal communication. But most of all, we need to listen to ourselves.

  2. We should consider inclusion in a team an ongoing process. Feeling included means being recognized as a person in the first place, then becoming a member, belonging to the group and committing oneself to the common good.

  3. A good dialogue needs mutual trust, respect and openness. We have to share our fears and needs.

  4. Give and receive strokes (signs of recognition). Strokes are as vital as bonds. The worst thing we can do to someone is not to recognize his existence.

  5. The best strokes are unconditional – not about what we wear or what we do but about who we are.

  6. A leader should represent ontological security, an understanding of who we are and a dwell of enough self-esteem. A leader is the anchor of a group.