“Learning, growth and transformation are creative processes at the core of global leadership”.

Such was the message as Sina Wendt-Moore participated at the CSCLeaders Global leadership programme earlier this year.

This is where she was introduced to the concept of ‘Cultural Intelligence’ (CQ) – the ability to connect across different “cultures”. Invited as CEO of Leadership New Zealand, Sina drew on her broad experience leading and working across multiple sectors with LeadershipNZ as well as diverse organisations such YWCA Aotearoa NZ, PACIFICA Auckland, C-Me Mentoring, public sector and corporate organisations – the Pacific Media Network, Telecom Directories and NZIM.

Julia Middleton framed CQ as broad ‘cultural intelligence’ – where “culture’ is broadly thought of as the collective mind-set of people who have things in common. We belong to lots of different ‘cultures’ and learn cues from each other within these groups – so cultural divides occur on multiple levels beyond ethnic influence into generational, sector, gender and so on.

CQ is about actively embracing difference, building bridges across the difference and learning how to lead and work across it. Diversity of thought and experience brings a richness to conversations about how we, as citizens, can innovate and work together to solve some of the complex challenges facing our society.

With roots from her Samoan heritage, Sina is influenced by her ethnic culture, traditions and hierarchy, her gender and experiences being a daughter, sister, mother and wife living in two very different contexts, and raising a family in AotearoaNZ. She explains that CQ is made up of two things – core and flex. If we want to build our CQ and leverage diversity, we need to start by being self-aware and identifying our beliefs, values & biases – understanding what is at our very core. The challenge is then looking at how much we can ‘flex’ from our core – where we are prepared to move and adapt; how much flex we have with understanding both what is at our core and being able to understand others with differing beliefs and values – being open-minded.

We asked Sina what strengths we have nationally to adapt to CQ and she believes that New Zealand is small, connected and agile with ‘1.5 degrees of separation’. Because of this, we have the tremendous opportunity to build our CQ as a nation, and connect with diverse groups of people beyond our normal (comfortable) spheres of influence. The challenge for the average New Zealander is to go beyond everyday life and build capacity through connecting people around what matters most for them – enabling positive change.

Sina is passionate about leadership and ethnic diversity, particularly empowering ethnic women as leaders. She explained that sometimes women from another cultures aren’t always sure about the ‘rules of engagement’ – they ‘don’t know what they don’t know’ – so how can we change this? She also believes that there is bias and ignorance in organisations that really closes the organisations off to the benefits of diversity, of embracing alternative mindsets and ways of working that would help their companies be more successful. We need to address unconscious bias and review how we recruit, employ, lead and manage people.

An area of focus for Sina over the next 12 months is to create greater awareness and improve support for inter-generational leadership – looking at how we harness the power of four generations in a workplace. She is passionate about strengthening young leaders within the perspective of diversity. Leadership New Zealand aims to change the way in which our leaders ‘lead’ through collective impact to achieve over and above what we currently do.

Sina has observed NFPs becoming more strategic as they are increasingly facing complex issues, and needing to ensure they’re about sustainability and impact. She says good governance is vital and recruiting well to strengthen mission and vision. As well as having a passion for ‘the cause’, skills and talents are critical for good leadership in NFP organisations. Her advice to prospective and current board members is to know what you are bringing to the role and how you’ll effect change within that organisation. Clarity of what you are getting yourself in for is important – so do some due diligence.

For more about Leadership New Zealand you can visit their website.

For a great article about “A Stronger New Zealand through better boards” visit leadership.co.nz.