“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.


This quote, attributed to Peter Drucker, has become even more salient in the current environment where organisations are becoming increasingly multicultural.

Businesses look very different to the way they looked only a few years ago and they are filled with colleagues from a variety of cultural backgrounds – be they ethnicity, religion, social class or generation. Consequently, the 21st century leader has to be equipped with a new skill – that of Cultural Intelligence.

The School for CEOs defines culture as an individual’s internal beliefs, shaped by experiences and people. It is our belief that many of the lessons learnt in this study are applicable in supporting leaders’ cultural intelligence broadly.

Earley and Ang (2003) defined cultural intelligence as being able to interact and
connect with people from different cultural backgrounds. For example, colleagues from
different regions may have different ways of living and working from your own.

International research studies have concluded that cultural background plays a significant
role in shaping an individual’s values and belief systems. With this in mind School for CEOs were curious to understand how well leaders understood cultural nuance and were able to
adapt their leadership style accordingly.

We also wanted to better understand cultural intelligence and how it contributes to inclusive
leadership, asking ourselves the following questions:

How do leaders apply cultural intelligence when navigating complex cultural differences?

How might their own cultural beliefs and biases influence their perceptions of other cultures and how they behave?

How can leaders further develop their cultural intelligence and become more inclusive?

This research helps us to answer these questions both qualitatively and quantitatively.
We are grateful to all our participants for their input, and we look forward to sharing our
findings through this report.



Taffy Blog Author Photo

Author Bio: Tafadzwa Maisva

Tafadzwa Maisva is an accomplished consultant, executive coach and researcher, with expertise in qualitative and quantitative research, particularly focusing on inclusion. Since joining the School, Tafadzwa co-facilitates the Reverse Mentoring programmes, having led research investigating Cultural Intelligence in leaders.