Ep 201: Cultural Intelligence: A Major Key to a Thriving Nonprofit (with Dr. Pablo Otaola)

by Joan Garry

You’ve heard of IQ and EQ. But, CQ is the third intelligence that empowers a nonprofit leader to mightily drive the mission with the strong, rallying support of a unified team. Listen in to learn what CQ is, how it works, and why it matters in the nonprofit landscape like never before.


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IQ. EQ. What about CQ (Cultural Intelligence)?

Studies show that about 80% of how a leader behaves gets interwoven into the culture of the organization. Thus, the CQ of the leader is crucial.

CQ covers both internal and external communication. It tests the safety around sameness. It “stress tests” the safety around differences. It can improve confident decision-making and enrich the workplace experience – especially where vehement disagreement of diverse perspectives exists.

When my wife and I started a family, I felt compelled to advocate for a world that treated our children fairly. This is what catapulted me from the sidelines into a leadership role in the LGBTQ movement, as CEO at GLAAD. Years later, my work in the nonprofit sector would lead me to start a business that supports other nonprofit leaders.

These experiences awakened me to the power and outright imperative nature of CQ. And that is why I bring this episode to you.

This topic is very close to my heart because I have the lived experience of being treated as a second-class citizen in this world. I desire a better experience for my children and for others. In fact, I demand it.

And I have found a key component.

Listen in as we – Glennda Testone (CEO of the Nonprofit Leadership Lab), Dr. Pablo Otaola (my firm’s partner, guide, coach, and teacher-advocate), and I – share our intersectional stories and converge on how and why we must learn to “engage across difference.” 

Tune in to learn:

  • What is CQ? Why does it matter? How does an organization achieve it?
  • What is important for every nonprofit leader to know?
  • How could CQ make you a better leader?

About Pablo:

Dr. Pablo Otaola is the principal of Thriving Culture, a consulting firm that partners with clients to attract a diverse workforce, motivate and engage employees, and create cultures of belonging where everyone can do their best work. Over the years, Pablo has developed various programs that train on organizational change, racial minority and women retention practices, multi-ethnic and religious identity, cultural intelligence, inclusion and diversity, leadership development, and gender equity.

As a lifelong learner and someone who likes to improve organizational gaps, Pablo has a Ph.D. in Leadership and Organizational Change, focusing on changes towards DEI from the University of Southern California. Pablo’s passion is to take this information to equip organizational leaders to change systems and create new ones that would allow all constituents to THRIVE.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”