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What One Skill Does Google Believe Graduates Should Have?

Matthew MacLachlan

10 Apr 2017

Schools, colleges and universities do their utmost to prepare our young people for a working life. Numeracy skills, literacy proficiency, the right aptitude- these are just some of the skills required by any employer. But which one skill is more important than all of these for graduate talent to possess according to a senior Google director?

Graduate talent in a global organisation

Google Director Shuvo Saha points out that the cultural intelligence (CQ) is the vital skill that graduates must be able to bring

Many organisations look to hire graduate talent with skills that will put them on the path to become future leaders of that organisation. Smart organisations know that simply looking for technology, numeracy or literacy skills are no longer enough. Nor are conventional business skills.

In an article published in Times Higher Education, Google Director Shuvo Saha points out that the cultural intelligence (CQ) is the vital skill that graduates must be able to bring.

Defining cultural intelligence

Saha recognises CQ as the ability to learn from others who are different from you

Cultural intelligence is not as simple to define as many other skills traditionally sought in the business world. It cannot be measured through coding prowess, writing a good proposal, or meeting complex project deadlines.

Saha recognises CQ as the ability to learn from others who are different from you. This begins with self-awareness. It’s also a two-way street, where it’s there is an opportunity for others to learn from you as well.

CQ in the work environment

Good organisations recognise the many benefits of CQ. In today’s business world, most organisations see their future expanding beyond their borders, even if the organisation is relatively small. Other organisations that are already trading abroad are probably looking to expand into even broader and more challenging cultures.

Good organisations recognise the many benefits of CQ

Good organisations also recognise that they need new ideas and approaches when considering a move into new markets. Although some of their talent may already be in-house, the prime source of skills they require may be talent they need to bring into the organisation from outside.

Graduate talent may be especially attractive as, with the right nurturing, they will be investing in their long-term future as well.

CQ skills

Google directors and many other globally-minded executives recognise a wide range of skills used by people with high CQ.

High CQ employees demonstrate an ability to establish a wide range of connections

Relationship building

Although conventional skills are important, high CQ employees demonstrate an ability to establish a wide range of connections. These connections, both within an organisation and external, facilitate relationship building.

Relationships are key to businesses across different cultures as they are typically required to establish trust.

Openness

Openness is also key. Whether being open to a new idea, a new way of doing something, or a new set of goals, high CQ employees are less likely to grumble and find fault in whatever is new.

Instead, they are much more likely to approach newness with an open mindset, looking for ways to address their challenges. They are not seduced by the status quo.

Collaboration

High CQ employees know that most successes within an organisation are dependent on collaboration.

Rather than working in isolation or in an ‘us vs them’ mentality, they draw on their connections to build a collaborative team, which often brings an even greater collection of ideas and possibilities.

Tolerance of ambiguity

Although not always ideal, globalisation can present uncertainty. High CQ employees have learnt to function well in uncertain situations.

They have the ability to look at a situation from more than one perspective and choose the solution that is most likely to work in that situation. They also manage ambiguity well.

Flexibility

Perhaps the main key for high CQ people is flexibility. In a world of different values, attitudes and behaviours, one size does not fit all. Inflexible, low CQ people may try to impose their way of doing things into cultural situations that require a very different approach.

Perhaps the main key for high CQ people is flexibility

High CQ people find a more flexible approach that replaces a rigid solution with a more malleable one: choosing the right tool for the right job. Often this involves finding a third way that is an improvement for both sides.

The benefits of CQ

All of these skills are high priorities for organisations truly working toward a globalised business approach. Hiring graduate talent with high CQ bodes well for the success of globalising organisations.

CQ graduates, unencumbered by corporate history, often bring their multifaceted viewpoints and flexible solutions

As more organisations consider expanding abroad, they need to understand how business is conducted differently across the globe. They also need to understand how people may be motivated by very different things.

CQ graduates, unencumbered by corporate history, often bring their multifaceted viewpoints and flexible solutions, benefitting all.

Diversity within the organisation should not be ignored. As time moves on, people move countries in greater numbers than ever before. Skilled graduate talent can also contribute to a more harmonious work environment within their own organisation by considering and assessing different ideas within their own team.

Skilled graduate talent can also contribute to a more harmonious work environment

Skilled graduates have a wider choice of where to work than their parents could have ever dreamt of. Wise organisations will understand the value of the high CQ many of them bring to a business world that is more complex than ever before. With a flexible approach from both parties, everyone benefits.