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“David’s (name changed) unconscious bias directed at himself was holding him and his organization back. He had experienced a disability growing up that resulted in his reluctance to communicate with senior leaders. His unconscious bias was that his disability limited his capacity to make a meaningful contribution. His organization wisely invested in coaching to increase talent retention.

Now, if you had asked David if he believed this disability could negatively impact capacity for anyone else he would have said, “Of course not!”

His unconscious bias led to his belief: “They (the senior leaders) are not going to want to talk with me or hear what I have to say.” This belief had been preventing David from respectfully stepping into his power and setting up meetings with leadership, sharing his useful ideas and fully utilizing his strengths to contribute to the organization’s prosperity.

His bias and belief were identified and resolved through our Culturally Intelligent High Potential Coaching. I was brought in to coach him after his 360 Assessment results did not match those of his boss, peers, and direct reports. He found it challenging to accept their glowing feedback.

My compassionate direct communication, “time to update your self-image!” began a shift in my coaching client’s perception of himself.  He learned to take in my and others’  positive views of him and update his self-image through some creative resources and processes we designed so they were a custom fit for him. 

This freed him to let go of his need for perfection, which was dangerously slowing down his response time, and paved the way for his move up the corporate ladder. Years later, along with my coaching support, he has partnered with other high potentials in their stepping into respectfully shared power, resulting in key talent retention.

Through CQ individual and team coaching, David and his leadership team learned how to not only manage their biases to make better use of existing talent as well as recruiting new talent, but also to share their learning with the organization. My six IMPACT step Breaking Free from Bias program found in my book by the same title, serves as a resource.

While his need to update his image to a more positive one was rooted in an unconscious self-bias related to ability/disability, our VUCCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Culturally Complex, Ambiguous) can cast doubt, eroding confidence in even the most self-assured.

How can Culturally Intelligent Coaching increase your and your organizational prosperity?

Cultural Intelligence, including managing bias, contributes to prosperity and your ability to achieve your vision by decreasing costly conflict, talent and business losses. Companies with greater diversity are up to 35% more profitable (2), talent retention improves by 19% (3) as well as a reduction of the 60-80% of difficulties related to “strained relationships among employees.”(4). The median coaching ROI is 300%! (5)

“CQ is a critical capability for navigating today’s increasingly global and diverse business environment. It’s so important that we made it one of our core behaviors at PwC.” —Robert Mortiz, Chair PWC, United States, with “Ninety percent of leading executives from 68 countries identify intercultural skills as among the most important capabilities required to remain competitive.” (1)

Want to learn more? Our Two Tools to Greater Impact and Income through CQ Toolkit, which you receive when signing up for our monthly newsletter, includes tools and case studies, so sign up today for resources and opportunities to help you navigate our culturally complex waters!

To our success-we are in this together!

Marilyn O’Hearne, MSW, MCC, LLC

CQ, Master Certified Coach, International Coach Federation




P.S. I work with leaders, teams and coaches to unlock potential while increasing prosperity and peace.

  1. Ang, S., Van Dyne, L., & Rockstuhl, T. (2014). Cultural intelligence: Origins, conceptualization, evolution, and methodological diversity. In M. Gelfand, C. Y. Chiu & Y. Y. Hong (Eds.), Advances in culture and psychology: Volume 5. New York: Oxford University Press. 
  2. McKinsey & Company, “Diversity Matters”, 2015
  3. Corporate Executive Report, 2013
  4. Zeynep Ilgaz, “Conflict Resolution: When Should Leaders Step In?” Forbes, May 15, 2014
  5. International Coach Federation Global Coaching Client Study, https://coachfederation.org/research/global-coaching-study

Click here to learn more about Cultural Intelligence and why you should care about it to stay on the leading edge.

First published April 6, 2018 and updated

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