Cultural intelligence and leadership style in the education sector
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Schools in UAE are multicultural in nature. In this context, cultural intelligence (CQ) is a tool, which can increase an individual’s ability to interact with people outside his/her culture. The purpose of this paper is to explore the perceptions of the school leaders regarding the key influences of cultural intelligence on their ability to adapt their leadership style in the Abu Dhabi Education Sector. Design/methodology/approach An extensive review of the literature was carried out to acknowledge the cultural intelligence and leadership style adaptability concepts. This research has adopted a qualitative method of inquiry. Data for the study have been collected from three focus groups with 14 schools leaders in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Findings This pilot study reveals that cultural intelligence has some influence on the school leaders’ ability to adapt their leadership style within a diverse work environment. This influence is complex in nature and multiple factors have been identified. Research limitations/implications The main limitations of this study are associated with the small sample size. Regarding the implications, while this study was conducted in a UAE cultural context, it can be extended to other Gulf countries. Future research should prompt educational leaders, administrators, students, and research academics to further consider the impact of cultural intelligence on leadership style. Practical implications This study contributes towards cultural intelligence literature. Schools should provide cultural training to managers before appointing them to leadership positions, which helps in understanding the culture which they are going to operate in, and effectively manage their drives, workforce, students, and the community. Originality/value The paper highlights six core factors that influence the ability of school leaders to adapt their leadership style in culturally diverse environments. These preliminary factors need to be examined further to validate the dimensions of leadership adaptability in various contexts.