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As we progress in our understanding of culture we learn through our cognition what it takes to be a leader in an intercultural world. What is required, as evident in the idea of cultural intelligence, is a more holistic, paradoxical picture of leadership. The picture is one that must engage people’s whole self, including the emotional, physical, mental, social, and spiritual domains.
This picture of leadership also forces us to recognize that the opposites we see, for example individualism and collectivism, are not in conflict; rather, they complement each other, enabling us to look at our individual and group strengths and our weaknesses in its totality. Opposites are not to demonstrate a “better than the other” dichotomy; instead, opposites create harmony, helping us to discover where we have been out of balance. Culturally intelligent leaders know they must balance the paradoxes of life: judge and learn, individual and group, strength and weakness, old and new, mindfulness and mindlessness, possible and impossible, and so on.
We are, as Carl Rogers noted, in a time where consciousnessAwareness of one’s self, including one’s thoughts, feelings, and situation. This awareness can also apply to a larger group, such as a nation. is critical to our self-development and, thus, the development of others. Through consciousness-raising activities such as cultural intelligence, we have the opportunity to let go of our limiting thoughts and behaviors. This consciousness creation is what Mary Parker Follet noted as both the social and political force of the future. It is through this creation, a collective conscious, that creative forces will emerge and work through the chaos and complexity of our times.