Inclusive leaders must have the ability to see the differences in people and learn to respect and understand those difference. Today, Perry and Chris discuss how to develop your Cultural Intelligence so you can relate to and work effectively with a diverse group of individuals.

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Perry Holley:    Welcome to the John Maxwell Executive Leadership podcast, where our goal is to help you increase your reputation as a leader, increase your ability to influence others and increase your ability to fully engage your team to deliver remarkable results. Hi, I’m Perry Holley, a John Maxwell facilitator and coach.

Chris Goede:     And I’m Chris Goede, vice-president with the John Maxwell Company. Welcome and thank you for joining. As we get started don’t forget if you want to download the learner guide that Perry has provided for us, please visit While you’re there if you have an idea for a topic or some content you’d like Perry and I to discuss in a future episode, don’t hesitate to do that. And we would love to be able to serve you in that way. Or if you just have a question and we can get back to you. We know we’ve had several questions over the last couple of episodes, and we would love to respond to you.

Well, today’s topic as we continue this series on becoming an inclusive leader. I think this is a huge gap for leaders that we’re missing out on. Today’s topic is called Cultural Intelligence and the Inclusive Leader. Perry, I love this. I love this term, just as I thought I was beginning to understand EQ and IQ and all these different … now, all of a sudden we got this cultural intelligence, but-

Perry Holley:    CQ.

Chris Goede:     CQ. That’s right. Thank you. You didn’t say GQ. That that would be Jay. That’d be our guy that produces us, makes us sound good, right? Not you and I.

Perry Holley:    If it was GQ, this would be a video cast, not a podcast.

Chris Goede:     That’s right. Perry and I have-

Perry Holley:    There’s a reason they have us on a podcast. [crosstalk 00:01:42] We have faces for this.

Chris Goede:     Well, last time we looked at the importance of inclusion and how becoming self-aware helps drive that inclusivity and the role that that plays in our organization and how the diverse teams that we all have and continue to increase our diversity in our teams, without that inclusive, without the self-awareness the inclusive, as in show up without the inclusivity, then the diverse teams are not serving the organization, the leaders, and the team members very well. So today I love this term that we’re talking about as we kind of joke around, but this is serious. This is what we do everyday. It’s what we get up and we say, “Man, we want to help improve cultures inside organizations.” That’s what we’re all about. And so you’re bringing this term and we’re talking about cultural intelligence. What does that have to do with being an inclusive leader? How are we tying that together?

Perry Holley:    Well, the definition of really, diversity, leading a diverse team by definition means they are not like me. And that’s a good thing. And to be inclusive, I think I need to really understand how to lead in a way that makes everyone on my diverse team feel valued, safe, like an insider, like they belong. And if I think if I’m going to effectively do that, it kind of comes down to differences between us. And this is an interesting dialogue in the United States right now that I must be able to see differences in people, respect those differences and then learn to understand those differences. And this cultural intelligence, or CQ as we referred to it, is the ability to relate and work effectively with a diverse group of individuals.

And people say, “I don’t see color. I don’t see national. I don’t see …” Then what you’re telling me is you see me as you. You think that you’re me, I’m you. And you’ve just really disadvantaged yourself from the diverse, the positivity of a diverse team with differences from you. The real value of that is lost if you say I see everybody the same. It really is defeating to someone to say, “I don’t see you for who you are. You’re just like me,” and nothing could be further from the truth. You’re not like me. I’m not like you. And that’s what makes us great. And that’s why I wanted to look at this topic to say, “What could I do to be more culturally intelligent so that I can really live and enjoy the value of his highly diverse team I want to have.”

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Chris Goede:     And remember the difference … We talk about leadership being an influence, and the difference between influence and manipulation is this fine line in the middle, which as we talk about, which is your motive. And we need to make sure that as we are talking about this, and we’re working through this content, that leaders, your motives are pure behind why we’re striving for this inclusivity. And that is not only that the individual on your team will grow and win. You’ll grow and win as leader, but the organization is going to grow and win. This is so at times misunderstood and people say, “Hey,” you hear the word cultural. And all of a sudden they’re like, “Well, so if I go to a different country, do I need to be able to deliver it different? Like what’s the cultural differences in that country?”

And that’s just the same, with kind of leading people. And they just think it’s because they’re from a different country, but that’s not it at all. It’s much more granular than that. It’s that they come from a complete different culture. It’s their story. It’s their upbringing, it’s their nationality. It’s all kinds of things that make up them, make up their story. And so I think most people, at times, will mistaken the cultural and think that they go to countries. And that’s really not what we’re talking about. Each of us have a … Perry, even you and I, we have a different cultural makeup that consists of many factors. Some of them are seen, a lot of them are unseen and they’re unseen in your team members as well. And I love this term that you gave me, that is what makes up their cultural identity. And I think as leaders are we searching, are we looking for the … our team members and what is their cultural identity in order to what we’re talking about here, which is to increase, influence with the right motive, which will drive inclusivity.

Perry Holley:    Right. I actually think that’s the way to look at it too, that your cultural identity, we all have a cultural identity. And you mentioned, seen and unseen parts of that. And this is depicted in most discussions like this, with the representation of an iceberg, if you will. And there’s a waterline on an iceberg, most of us are trained well in school. The majority of it’s below the waterline and unseen, the smallest part is above the waterline and seen. And when you think about where is your waterline and what of you can I discover just by seeing you and being in your presence or working with you, I’m able to determine some parts of your identity that they show, but there’s the vast majority of your identity is unseen to me, which is where this intelligence comes in, that I need to develop some intelligence about what’s below the waterline with you, so that I can really respect and understand and relate to the differences in us. And just an example if you looked at me and above the waterline, things like gender, race, generation. You can see I’m a white American male of a certain generation, which I don’t think it’s important to discuss right now.

Chris Goede:     I wondered if you were going to throw out your age there.

Perry Holley:    But below the waterline will be things like my religious beliefs, my political leanings, my sexual orientation, my values or beliefs, my family status, my education level. There’s many, many more. As a matter of fact, if you want to see a picture, I didn’t tell you this, Chris, but I dipped into my creative talents and made a graphic for the learner guide. So if you download the learner guide for this episode, I put a picture of the iceberg and what some of these above and belows might be. There might be some that straddle the waterline. I was thinking about you say my nationality, that’s one thing, but what about my ethnicity inside that nationality?

We live, now, I don’t think either one of us are from the South, but we live in the South. And so people would see us as Southern Americans. Would that have a certain, let me just tell you, let me just cut to the chase, it has some certain ramifications with it just like being a Northern American or somebody from out West. So if you’re from a certain place in China or a certain place in Ireland, and you have different ethnicities that feed into that, this is all very complex, and the beauty of it is it’s very complex. It makes you a very interesting and great team member to have on there. If I can bring you in, that inclusiveness, to bring you in there. You cannot assume you know someone based on what’s visible, which is generally what we do is, “Oh, that’s that old guy from the South of the US. And he thinks certain things. He’s probably …” and then they started labeling you with other identities that may or may not be yours.

Chris Goede:     What you can’t have happen in an effective, efficient team is have team members that are asking this question of themself, “Can I be myself? What parts of my identity do I need to cover up today when I go into this team meeting, when I go into this organization?” You can’t have them asking that type of question that they can’t be wondering, is it safe to truly be myself? We want people to be authentic. We talk about this a ton because authenticity, both as a leader, a follower, person with influence, whatever it might be is the number, the single most number one attribute that people can have when it comes to being a leader, when it comes to increasing your influence, when it comes to adding value to your teams. We don’t want them to feel isolated or unsupported.

So I think a great question that you pose right here for me to ask, Perry, and I love this question, which is how much courage is required by my team members to be their authentic self? That question to me, I promise you, when I read this coming into today, I thought, “I love the question. What’s it look like to be on the other side of my leadership?” This question right here is 1A for me. How much courage my team right now, if I’m thinking about my team, and I have a diverse team, if I’m thinking about how much courage is it required for them to be authentic to who they are? And man, that is a great self-reflection question as a leader. And I think we should all ask that. So if you want to know what your homework is going to be in the wrap-up that Perry always throws to me. We could stop the whole lesson right here, Perry, because that question is going to be in there.

Perry Holley:    Well, it would frighten you. I’ve been doing this a long time and working with different groups. And I read a lot and study and some of the, cover, you used the word, how much do I have to cover my identity to fit in here? And there was some women covering that they were moms because they felt that their boss, their leadership team didn’t think that women with children worked as hard as men who didn’t have to rush home and take care of children. You think how ridiculous is that? I mean, they’re working actually 10 times as hard and we’re not giving them credit. I thought, “Oh my gosh.” So you having to cover the most important part of your whole life to work for me, that’s a shame. And you talk about, am I going to be engaged? Am I going to be my authentic self? Am I going to be rowing with you in that boat? Or no, you’re only getting a part of me to do that.

Another question that comes up a lot of this is because we base so much on what we see above the waterline, the question you need to ask about, and the word that comes up a lot is bias or unconscious bias. And do I hold any bias about certain parts of my identity or the identity of others, identity of my teammates> one of the number one types of bias that comes up a lot is the word you’ll hear stereotyping, is that if I see that you’re of a certain generation, I’m going to stereotype you, that everybody from that generation, all millennials are, and you can fill in the blank on that. All baby boomers have a problem with … gender, all women, ethnicities, all people from Asia and you can just fill in the blank and say, no, that’s stereotyping and we want to stay away. That’s a very obvious form of bias.

But bias to me, and in the stereotyping, and the lesson I learned on this was, was you’re tempted to stereotype and lump everybody in a group together, the words you want to rush to there is generalizing is that, many millennials do this. However, I don’t know this millennial very well. So let me get to know them. So in general, many millennials do this, but this millennial is new to me and I’m going to take the time to get to know them and see if they do it too. So I can generalize on that, but bias is something every leader needs to consider when you’re working on your cultural intelligence because it will, it’ll show up for sure.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. And again, it will portray a certain identity on somebody that is based off your bias. And let me say this, the way that people oftentimes categorize having a bias, it sometimes can come across as a negative thing. Here’s what we need to understand. We all have them.

Perry Holley:    Right.

Chris Goede:     Right. And it’s just part of how we’re made up. But I think it’s the way that our brains are able to sort and simplify the many complex things that come into us every minute that help us maximize what we do. It’s our makeup. But where we get in trouble, and then I love this word here, and I love this combination because I think this is at the root cause of so many different issues with lack of inclusivity, is that when we get into a confirmation bias, where we’re just looking for documentation, we’re looking for things, we’re looking for people on our team that already believe what we believe. And we’re just asking them to confirm it. We ignore a different perception, how things are different received. We ignore the opportunity to grow and learn a different way of doing things, of communicating, of connecting, of whatever it might be, because we just want to be into this confirmation bias. I know you speak a lot on these different types of biases. This is a problem when it comes to having true inclusivity of a diverse team, when you simply focus on this confirmation bias.

Perry Holley:    Right. I had to come up with a way to remind myself that the greatest thing you can do is figure out how to recognize your bias. And because it’s called unconscious bias, you can imagine the trouble that’s going to have with that. It’s unconscious. How am I supposed to recognize it? However, I’ve noticed if I’m become more aware, if I’m starting to pay attention more to what triggers me when someone walks in, when I notice someone, am I having a reaction to that? IS a thought going through my mind? Why did I think that? Actually someone gave me this great line. I use it all the time is to remind myself that bias is a story I’m telling myself about you without knowing anything about you.

So I just, I saw something, I know I was having dinner in a New York City restaurant. And the server came over, it was a guy, and he had tattoos on every available part of his body that I could see. Neck, all the way down to the shirt, coming out, the sleeves, the legs. And I noticed that I had a negative reaction and I thought, “Why would I do that?” And so I just kind of questioned myself and said, “Why would I do that? Do I have tattoo bias?” I don’t know that that’s really one, but I thought, “I wonder if I do.” So I decided that I needed to just be more intentional with it. I don’t have tattoos, but I’m not particularly against tattoos. I thought something in my mind made that.

So I just started the conversation with the guy and asked him about tattoos. And that’s a very artistic example, how long did it take? And I just got curious and began asking, and this was a genuinely good individual who I ended up having a great conversation with. And he kept coming back to the table. I felt like we could be friends if I lived there, but yet I would not have done that normally, because in my mind, a tattoo, not good. I need to … What? I don’t know. I don’t even know where that comes from.

So to do that … I’ll give you a better story. This is years and years ago, but it’s a formal study, so you can look it up to research it. But an orchestra in the Northeast, it was the Boston Philharmonic, somebody noticed that all the musicians over like 97% of musicians were men and somebody asked the question, “Are men just better musicians than women?” And they said, “No, it’s got to be a bias,” especially this was years ago, so it was kind of a male dominated, even more so than today. And it was just more men were applying. I guess they said “No, let’s go from open auditions to blind auditions.” So they put a curtain across the stage and the people that were assessing them were out in the audience, but the musicians came out behind the screen. So you couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman. And after six months of doing this, they had the exact same problem. 90 plus percent of musicians were men.

And right before they were ready to determine that men really are better musicians than women, somebody else took another look at it and said, “Have the contestants that are applying before they come out behind the screen, have them take off their shoes.” And so everybody had to walk out in their socks and carrying their instrument and sit down and play. And then after six months of doing that, they now had closer to a 55/45. And they said, “What was that about?” And they said that the women wearing high heeled shoes were clicking on the floor differently than men walking with broader shoes and not making the clicking noise. And just that little bit triggered an unconscious bias about it’s a man or a woman. And I thought for me that said, that’s how serious this is, or that … Bias is good. It actually saves your life. It helps you sort and sift all this information, but it can be bad if you’re sorting information about people and telling yourself a story that you do not, about someone you do not know. So stop making up the story and figuring out how can I then get to know them in a way to that?

Chris Goede:     Well, I mean, that’s a fantastic story just to kind of bring enlightenment to us as leaders that it is happening. There is unconscious there. And I think to uncover bias, I think here’s three questions, I want you just to kind of write down and ask yourself, all right. Where am I exposed to differences? Other than kind of what your current biases are, what is my response to those differences? Journal, take some time to think about that. And then finally, to your point, talking about the tattoo, what’s the story that I’m telling myself about the differences that I’m currently encountering and feeling? Begin to journal that and become aware of it. Back to what we talked about in our last episode about the self-awareness, and all of these questions will help you uncover the bias that you have.

Perry Holley:    Yeah. I think the skill that I’m noticing is very helpful for me. We talked in the last episode about being self-aware that I’m becoming more self-aware about myself and my effect on others and how I fit in. But this skill of curiosity is a skill for, a real one that you can lean on as a leader. When you come to understanding of the people on your team and how do they identify? This is going to be some times, many of us think these are uncomfortable conversations, but you’re really talking about who you really are. What makes you you, and how do you identify? It doesn’t mean you’ve got to start digging into their life and all that, but people will share if they want. The more I learn about what makes you you, the more you will feel like an insider, included, a valued member of the team that I value. And I think that that’s really what I’m trying to get to here.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. And I love that, curiosity. I think we’re not curious enough. When you think about this and you think about leaders developing cultural intelligence, becoming more inclusive, I know that you love to talk a little bit about humility when it comes to this. So the whole curiosity and humility, talk a little bit about that as we kind of wrap up this session.

Perry Holley:    Yeah. I think humility is probably the number one skill of an inclusive leader, to me. It just says that I don’t know at all. I want to be curious. I want to ask more questions. I don’t need to talk as much. I can listen and lots of … Actually, I think on the next episode, I’d like to get into some of the specific skills that inclusive leaders use. But for me, number one, humility, setting you up to see others, really an others orientation, to see others as important and to set yourself up for being curious about who they are. You and I both traveled quite a bit back when that was the thing to do.

Chris Goede:     Right.

Perry Holley:    But I just noticed that, I recall sitting in a pub in Ireland. Ireland? Yeah, Ireland. And it was this, nobody there, there was a game on the TV. And I thought, “What is this game? It’s like hockey, but with grass and it’s rugby and hockey and soccer all mashed into one.” And I got fascinated and I just … There was nobody but the bartender was there. I said, “What is this?: And the game was hurling. And normally I would have made a light joke about this. And it turns out to be their national sport and played for over 4,000 years, maybe 5,000 years. And you know what, I don’t know what I’m talking about. Why would I not be humble and say, “Can you explain this?” Which I did, fortunately, didn’t step in it. But it was so obvious to me that the interest level in this person in me and paying attention, because I’m inquiring about something that’s important to them that’s completely outside of my cultural knowledge base. I don’t know this, but I’m fascinated by it. Could I just, by being curious, a little humble, begin to get people to share more of themselves. And I share more of myself that I’m a little vulnerable and saying, “I don’t know, can you explain that to me?”

And then they love to, people love to inform you and tell you that. And you start to really show up as a human being. You don’t have to be some over the top, I know it all. I’ve already got it figured out. This is a dumb game. Who would play a game with sticks? No, I can’t even imagine the athleticism it took to do it after I started watching it. How you run with a rock on the stick at full tilt with somebody beating you from behind with it? I have no idea, but yeah, you can do a lot more with just humility, curiosity and sharing more of yourself.

Chris Goede:     You’re lucky you didn’t get hurled right out of that. I’ve been waiting for you to stop that story just so I can say that [crosstalk 00:23:34].

Perry Holley:    I can tell you how to-

Chris Goede:     Yeah. As we wrap up, I love the illustrations, Perry, that you brought to us today because it’s real. Leaders, it’s happening every day inside your boardroom, inside your team meeting room, inside your organization, everybody across the board has these biases. And I want to go back and as I wrap up, there’s two things for you. It’s a question that really has rocked me today, Perry, which is how much courage is required by some of my team to be their authentic self? I got to fix that, right? They shouldn’t have to have to have courage to come and do that. I should have a culture that allows that. And then secondly, I just want you to begin to think about, and take some time and ask yourself those three questions around the biases that you have. And what does that look like? And begin to journal and go back and listen to that. And Perry had mentioned, he had an illustration for us. If you want to go to, that’ll be there as well. So I appreciate you bringing this content to us, Perry.

Perry Holley:    My pleasure, and thank you, Chris, for the insights. And as Chris mentioned,, will get you the learner guide, access to a place where you can leave a question or a comment, and gain more information about the five levels, the 360 Leader and other offerings that we provide. Grateful that you would spend this time with us each week. It’s a great honor to us and thank you for doing that. And that’s all today from the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast.

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