“Can leaders inspire people half their age? Can young people influence others double their age? These are key indicators of cultural intelligence,” she told delegates at our morning seminar, going on to examine how biases and personal culture affect our ability to lead and inspire increasingly diverse teams.
“It’s extraordinarily difficult to get people to work together,” she said. “People have very different conceptions of culture and life, so the killer culture to master is your own. Where does your culture add value and where does it impede you?”
There is a need for people to develop “core and flex”, according to Middleton. Your core comprises the things that define you, on which you won’t compromise. Your flex are things you can choose to adapt to other people and cultures. To succeed, both core and flex must be kept under review, adapting flex without compromising core, while understanding and addressing ‘knots’ (biases in our core).
Get to grips with a new culture by looking to the stories we tell our children, she advised. “To understand the culture of a place, read the books they give to their two-year olds. Storytelling sticks with people through their lives; without it, it’s hard to build a culture.”
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