“Leading with Cultural Intelligence” by Livermore

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David Livermore’s book Leading with Cultural Intelligence: The Real Secret to Success is a highly reputable source in the sphere of global leadership. The book catches the reader’s attention due to its seeming language simplicity but intriguing real-life stories and in-depth research. The author is surprised by how many places, peoples, and experiences one may encounter in a globalized world. Therefore, Livermore (2015) states that “leadership is a multicultural challenge” (p. 3). The title of the book presumes a good reading for those aiming to become leaders; other people can extract vital futile tools for interacting with representatives from other nations or organizations. Even though being a leader seems comfortable in the beginning, there are many peculiarities one must consider to become a professional to aspire, especially in the sphere of management.

Despite the variety of suggested definitions of cultural intelligence (CQ), Livermore (2015) discovered his own notion: “cultural intelligence is the capability to function effectively across national, ethnic, and organizational cultures” (p. 4). The proponents of cultural intelligence believe that it does not contradict preserving and implementing people’s intrinsic values, views, and beliefs. It is not about faking or pretending to stick to other cultures but demonstrating the ability to assimilate to different cultural peculiarities in the context. The high level of cultural intelligence helps to work through the myriad of situations allowing people to learn and teach new phenomena (Livermore, 2015). Cultural knowledge is now gaining a lot more attention from cross-cultural organizations as the world becomes globalized. The last two chapters of a book discuss how to leverage CQ that leaders have needed for ages.

The modern world full of businesses is built upon interacting with culturally diverse individuals. “Cultural intelligence offers leaders an overall repertoire and perspective that can be applied to myriad cultural situations” (Livermore, 2015, p. 4). Therefore, it is demanded that cultural intelligence should be applied to be a global leader as leading as a multicultural challenge. 90% of the executives consider cross-cultural leadership as the top management challenge of the next century (Livermore, 2015). Livermore suggests that an intuitive sense of direction is a valuable asset; however, it is nothing without cultural intelligence (Livermore, 2015). Livermore assumes that cultural intelligence is a key to making the world’s biggest and smallest business to grow stronger (Livermore, 2015). CQ is beneficial for international leaders; however, it is not the sole characteristic of cross-cultural leaders who pursue the goal of being successful.

There are some myths concerning the leadership on the international level. First, leadership is thought to be the sixth sense or simply saying intuition. However, if one succeeds in leading the individuals of one culture, it does not imply they will be successful in communicating with another nation. The second myth suggests that the world is flat, which means that the culture does not explain everything, so one has to dive deeper into people’s minds. Then, if no one follows, one is not a leader. The statement implies that leadership is not about the values only but the reflection of the followers upon one’s actions (Livermore, 2015). The fourth myth considers matrix models to be better suited for leading across borders; however, the growing evidence shows that leading is possible internationally. As a result, all the myths can be justified, and usually, biases are overcome.

Managers are among those who urgently need to implement leadership skills as their vocation directly presumes to delegate tasks to their followers. Developing efficient communication and building trust has always been the essential points in leadership. However, obtaining such skills is the entire challenge for those in charge. Human resources policies, motivational strategies, and performance reviews need to be adapted for various cultural groups represented among your team. A retail store manager is responsible for the supervision of sales, managing staff and stock, and reporting every practical aspect to the general manager. Besides, one also has the responsibility of communicating with foreign people and being a leader for their team. Typically, in the United States, employees come from all over the world; thus, a manager must establish proper contact with each member to ensure the entire team works efficiently.

Therefore, to succeed as a manager, one must have cross-cultural competencies. Livermore suggests that intercultural skills are the abilities to perceive, appreciate, and communicate with people from different backgrounds (Livermore, 2015). The author also claims that cultural competencies and cultural intelligence are tightly related but are different in structure. Competencies mostly include cognitive and behavioral skills, traits, personal values, and beliefs, whereas intelligence comprises knowledge, motives, strategies, and actions. In the context of being a manager in a retail store, one may observe that an inspirational manager-leader owns both competencies and intelligence.

Primarily, when managing people, one must understand and value their perspectives and keep in mind their cultural difference. Therefore, before accepting a new employee, a professional manager must establish contact with them, find out more about their cultural background to choose a manner of communication with them. As a result, the first task for a manager is to bridge the gap with communication skills. How one communicates to others, either verbally or non-verbally, defines the success of the working process. In my supervising practice, I try to consider cultural differences each of my employees have so that I can use specific means of communication towards each of them.

There are also situations when one does not know how to act due to cultural unawareness. Livermore recommends being yourself and learning how and when to adapt one’s behavior for different cultural occurrences (Livermore, 2015). The statement implies that there is no need to shame for making mistakes while communicating with foreign colleagues as one may soon adapt to their peculiarities and start acting alike. Being a manager in a retail store, one has to be confident enough to tackle such situations as misunderstandings are standard practices when new employees are on a site. Moreover, sometimes it is hard to comprehend body language as some employees are reserved; meanwhile, some are too expressive. For instance, I had experience working with people from South America who have a strong, distinctive body language, and sometimes their gestures are incomprehensive. Therefore, I had to ask what they mean by moving their part of the body in a specific way.

One of the components of cultural intelligence is a drive that presupposes motivation to learn and adapt to a new culture. People who refuse to respond to unknown peculiarities are unlikely to adjust to a new team. What a manager should do to enhance an organization’s productivity is to get on well with different communities and social groups (Livermore, 2015). Moreover, learning the most common words from the employee’s language will benefit both sides while trying to interpret the task.

The other important aspect of CQ is knowledge, which does not necessarily mean learning every detail of others’ culture but rather the factors that shape their values and beliefs. Knowing the background of the nation you work with makes a manager looks more authoritative in the eyes of employees because workers see the interest in their eyes. When a manager becomes culturally aware, they may formulate culturally sensitive strategies. Once the behavior is adapted to the employees’ cultures, one may plan a strategy concerning the amount of diversity of tasks to delegate to different employees.

The last element of cultural intelligence is an action. By the concept of action, Livermore understands the ability of a leader to behave in situations when things do not go according to a plan. Prior to delegating activities to employees, it is vital to learn more about their business etiquette so the wrong thing will not go unnoticed. The problems of misunderstanding may still arise, so a manager must not hesitate to ask direct questions. Such an approach will help to indicate the hindrance, and the employee will appreciate the interest the manager expresses towards their culture.

In conclusion, it seems relevant to state that being an intercultural leader in any sphere is vital as it helps to unite the employees, increase productivity, and enhance cultural communication. When a culturally intelligent manager deals with foreign colleagues or employees, no misunderstanding or mistake is likely because their awareness lets others work better. After all, they perceive the differences. Overall, a successful leader is the one who owns CQ skills and can perform well in working with foreigners.


Livermore, D. (2015). Leading with cultural intelligence: The real secret to success. AMACOM.

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