Have you ever been to a busy mall, event, or festival, or shopping during the busiest time of the season, and you could not find a parking spot? Driving all around, let us say that you finally located a spot, only to find that you cannot park there because there is a car that double-parked in that space. What is your reaction? What if this situation consistently happens to you and the parking lot is in a different city or state, a different region of the country, or another country all together? What is your reaction then? What assumptions would you make about the people who drive the car? What assumptions might you have about the people who live in that city, state, region, or country?
In cultural intelligence, a development of high self-efficacy is necessary in unfamiliar cultural environments. You do not have a choice but to develop a higher self-efficacy. This area of the human potential is spoken about in the study of emotional intelligence. Daniel Goleman 1 was the first to popularize the concept of emotional intelligence (EI). Building on the work of John Mayer and Peter Salovey, Goleman distilled EI into a relatively concise set of five skills, addressed the following questions:
- How well do you know your emotions?
- How well do you manage your emotions?
- How do you adapt or change based on your emotions?
- How well do you recognize the emotions in others?
- How well do you handle relationships?
Self-management of emotions plays a critical role in leadership. As Goleman notes, managing emotions is a full-time job 2. For leaders, self-management encompasses a multitude of competencies that include emotional self-control, that is, the ability to stay calm and clear-headed during periods of high stress or during a crisis. It is important for leaders to develop ways of dealing with their disruptive impulses and emotions, especially in intercultural situations.
Self-efficacy requires adaptability and initiative. Adaptability is your ability to juggle multiple demands, adapt to new challenges, and adjust to new changes. Adaptability allows you to effectively deal with the ambiguities of cultures. Your initiative is your competency to seize the challenges and turn them into opportunities. You create and act rather than wait.
Learning to develop an optimistic perspective will help you to improve your self-efficacy, thus improving your ability to be resilient to challenges. You begin to see the best in people and expect that changes will be positive. For example, Viktor Frankl, a man who survived the horrific experiences of the concentration camps in Nazi Germany, noted that even though he had suffered, he chose to see his experiences in the camps as one that held meaning for him. He said that choosing your own attitude in any situation is one of the most powerful freedoms provided to mankind. 3
Frankl shows that choosing one’s attitude can shift one’s perspective, thus creating new possibilities. His thinking on this subject matter has been instrumental in opening up new possibilities of thinking about the capacity of human beings to survive and find meaning in life. His book Man’s Search for Meaning provides a platform for existential therapy and logotherapy.