Cultural Awareness

Most of what is written about leadership has been written by western scholars and practitioners—mostly from the United States. Thus, what we have studied in this module so far reflects western assumptions and values about how to improve leadership performance.

But leadership quality, we know, is mostly about perception. If the followers perceive that a person is a leader, that person will be treated with respect and the followers will grant him the power and authority to guide their actions. These perceptions can vary across cultures, and successful global leaders know that leadership is viewed differently in different cultures and modify their behaviors to align with culturally diverse expectations. This is what is called Cultural Intelligence.

(If this is a topic that particularly interests you and you would like to increase your capacity for cultural intelligence, you are encouraged to enroll in LED520: Cross-Cultural Communication and Leadership. This course can serve as an elective in several degree programs.)

Required Reading

The following reading discusses the importance of cultural awareness in increasing organizational effectiveness:

O’Reilly, C. (2013). Why is cultural intelligence important? Retrieved from


Click on the following link: You will find a selection of cultural awareness quizzes, business culture quizzes, and country-specific quizzes. Choose one or two quizzes that look interesting to you. (Hint: You will learn the most if you choose a general quiz or one that concerns a country with which you are not familiar, and then choose a quiz that tests your knowledge of a country with which you think you are highly familiar.) After completing the quiz(zes), address the following questions in a 2- to 3-page essay:

Which quiz(zes) did you take?
Were you surprised at your performance on the quiz(zes)?
What strengths do you think you have in the area of inter-cultural awareness?\
What weaknesses are you able to identify?
Create a plan of specific steps you can take to build on your strengths and improve areas of weakness.
Why is it important for managers to increase their levels of cultural awareness?
Keys to the Assignment

The key aspects of this assignment that should be covered in your paper include:

Complete the assessment according to the guidelines and interpret the results.
Include the actual results.
Discuss BOTH strengths and weaknesses. If there were gaps between your assessment results and your own thoughts about your level of cultural awareness, why they do these gaps exist?
Discuss concrete actions you can take to improve your cultural awareness.

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