Why your CQ can make or break your future in ministry

David Livermore | Jan 20, 2010
  • Why can some leaders effectively serve rural, urban, and suburban youth all within the same ministry?
  • What gives ministries the greatest edge in effectively reaching out to youth and families from a variety of ethnic backgrounds?
  • Why do some leaders consistently organize short-term missions projects that empower the local communities served and others struggle?
  • Why do some leaders seem to work just as effectively with adults and parents as they do with adolescents?
  • Why do some youth leaders thrive in the face of a multicultural, globalized world while others flounder?

The answer lies partially in their cultural intelligence, or CQ. Cultural intelligence is defined as the capability to function effectively across national, ethnic, and organizational cultures. ((Soon Ang and Linn Van Dyne, Conceptualization of Cultural Intelligence in Handbook of Cultural Intelligence: Theory, Measurement, and Applications (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2008), 3.)) And research demonstrates a leaders CQ may easily be the single greatest difference between thriving in todays shrinking world or becoming ineffective and obsolete.

The continually shifting landscape of youth ministry can be disorienting. Experience and common sense alone are not enough. When working in our own cultures, we intuitively use a set of social cues to lead effectively. We have a wealth of information, most of which is subconscious, which helps us do our work (e.g. managing and motivating volunteers, casting vision, teaching, addressing conflict, etc.). But those rules change once we start leading in a different cultural setting.

Cultural intelligence is a set of capabilities and skills that enables leaders from outside a culture to interpret unfamiliar behaviors and situations as if they were insiders to that culture. It can be learned by most anyone. In testing leaders CQ across the world, theres a consistent set of strategies and practices proven to enhance anyones CQ. The findings consistently demonstrate a strong connection between leaders CQ and their effectiveness in reaching their goals. Our model stems from rigorous academic research on intelligence and cross-cultural interaction across 30 countries and includes four steps toward becoming more effective cross-culturally. The four steps can easily be applied to any cross-cultural situation (ethnic cultures, organizational, and generational subcultures).

Tomorrow we’ll talk about the first two steps in the process.

David Livermore

David Livermore is a thought leader in cultural intelligence (CQ) and global leadership. He’s president and partner at the Cultural Intelligence Center in East Lansing, Michigan. Dave has done training and consulting with leaders in 100 countries across the Americas, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe. Dave has authored several books, including Serving With Eyes Wide Open: Doing Short-Term Missions with Cultural Intelligence, Cultural Intelligence: Improving your CQ to Engage our Multicultural World, and The Cultural Intelligence Difference. Dave has been part of the Short-Term Missions research team with FYI and contributed to Deep Justice Journeys.


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