Emotional intelligence is the best-kept secret of entrepreneurial success.
For many years “being smart” was defined based on one's intellectual intelligence, otherwise referred to as IQ. People didn't think that emotions and business went well together. However that all changed in the 90's when emotional intelligence (EQ) came onto the scene.
First developed by Mayer and Salovey, and later popularized by Ronald Goleman, the concept of emotional intelligence created a huge debate as to what was more important in determining one's success in life – street smarts or book smarts.
Decades of research now point to emotional intelligence as the critical factor that differentiates star performers from the rest of the pack. It's no longer a luxury; today's entrepreneur needs emotional intelligence if they want to succeed in business. It has become the new gold standard.
Are you ready to learn 6 reasons why emotional intelligence is a skill that you need to master? Please keep reading.
When you envision a successful entrepreneur, what comes to your mind? For a lot of people, the most important personality traits of an entrepreneur are things like persistence, risk-taking, and resourcefulness. Don't get me wrong… these are important. However, when it comes to creating a business that stands the test of time, developing emotional intelligence is the secret sauce.
What is emotional intelligence?
In the emotional intelligence book, The EQ Edge: Emotional Intelligence and Your Success, Steven J. Stein, Ph.D. and Howard E. Book define EQ as, “The set of skills that enable us to make our way in a complex world… It has to do with the ability to read the political and social environment, and landscape them; to intuitively grasp what others want and need, what strengths and weaknesses are; to remain unruffled by stress; and to be engaging. The kind of person others want to be around and will follow.”
In short, EQ is all about effectively identifying and managing your own emotions and the emotions of others.
For an entrepreneur, mastering this skill can be the difference between success and failure. Those entrepreneurs that neglect to develop emotional intelligence tend to get stressed easily make more mistakes, and make reactive decisions.
Not surprisingly, they struggle to experience success.
Gary Vaynerchuck, a successful entrepreneur, author, and speaker, identifies why emotional intelligence is so important to business owners – “If I could sell a formula made up of gratitude, empathy, and self-awareness it would be my billion-dollar coconut water idea.”
The great news is that emotional intelligence is comprised of a flexible set of skills that can be developed and improved over time. In his book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, Daniel Goleman suggests that there are 5 components of emotional intelligence:
Being an entrepreneur means that you are wearing a lot of different hats, putting out fires, solving problems, fixing mistakes, selling their brand, interacting with team members, clients, and prospective customers; all while trying to understand the never-ending complexities of the business world.
Overwhelming, right? Entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows. This is why emotional intelligence skills play a critical role in the overall quality of our personal and professional lives.
Unlike IQ, which stays fairly stable over our lifetime, EQ is something that can be improved. It comes down to one's desire to learn and grow. Let's explore 5 ways that you can develop your emotional intelligence.
1. Increase Your Self-Awareness
Self-awareness is the foundation of emotional intelligence. Knowing who you are, including what your strengths and weaknesses are, is critical to your success as an entrepreneur.
Korn Ferry Hay Group research found that among leaders with multiple strengths in Emotional Self-Awareness, 92% had teams with high energy and high performance. In contrast, leaders low in Emotional Self-Awareness created negative climates 78% of the time.
When you are able to express how you feel in a healthy way and have an awareness of how your emotions affect those around you, you will be better able to address problems the moment that they arise.
2. Master Your Emotions
If you are just starting your entrepreneurial journey or are already on it, then you know what I mean when I say that it isn't a walk in the park. Entrepreneurs have to deal with new challenges on a daily basis, whether that's managing team members, learning new skills, or dealing with disgruntled customers.
Sometimes it can feel like you have zero control. This is when learning how to master your emotions becomes very important. The reality is that we don't have control over anything that happens to us. The only thing that we have control over is our inside world.
In the words of John Maxwell, “Life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it.”
Instead of reacting when faced with challenges, entrepreneurs that have high emotional intelligence are proactive. They don't make emotional decisions and attack others. Rather, they carefully think about a situation before responding. Triggers are a normal part of life, especially in the world of business. It is up to you how you choose to interpret and respond to difficult situations.
3. Improve Your Communication Skills
You can be the best in your industry, but if you don't know how to effectively communicate with your customers, clients, and colleagues, then you won't be successful. In the business world, communication happens in many different ways, with many different people, whether that's face-to-face or online.
How well do you communicate with others? Studies suggest that our daily communication breakdown is as follows:
Unfortunately, a lot of people struggle with active listening because they are either talking over someone or are too consumed with what's going on in their own head to pay attention to what the other person is saying. As Peter Drucker says, “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said.”
Successful entrepreneurs who possess strong emotional intelligence value the importance of listening. They realize that, by allowing others to feel heard, it creates trust with people. Furthermore, it allows them to learn more about who their audience is and what makes them tick.
4. Show Genuine Concern For Others
Demonstrating empathy for others means that you are committed to putting yourself in someone else's shoes. It's about uncovering the deeper meaning behind why people do what they do.
The next time a client or a customer does something that doesn't feel aligned with your beliefs, ask yourself, “Why does this person feel the way he or she does? How can I show up for him or her from a place of respect and integrity, while still honoring my truth?”
Take the time to look at situations from multiple perspectives and pay close attention to your feelings. You may be surprised what comes up for you.
Entrepreneurs with high emotional intelligence are skilled at creating strong relationships with people because they have a genuine interest and concern for their well-being. As a result, they are master influencers. People want to follow their work because they trust who they are as a person and what they stand for.
5. Create A Stress Reliever Toolkit
Entrepreneurs know what stress feels like. It comes with the territory. In the business world, if you don't know how to effectively cope with day-to-day-stressors, you will experience burnout fast. I encourage you to create a personal toolkit of stress reliever techniques that you can practice on a daily basis.
This is why I'm such a big fan of a morning routine. By conditioning my mindset every morning I am able to put myself into a peak mental and emotional state. Highly successful people are consistently calm, composed and focused under pressure because they are always monitoring their emotional state.
By committing to practicing healthy habits every single day — like meditation, yoga, or reading, — you set yourself up for success.
6. Embrace Lifelong Learning
Successful entrepreneurs commit to a neverending process of personal growth and development. They welcome and actively seek out constructive feedback from their colleagues, mentors, coaches, peers, and team members because they want to improve themselves. Weaknesses are only seen as opportunities to grow and become more.
By adopting a growth mindset and harnessing the power of emotional intelligence, you will be better able to make your emotions work for you, instead of against you. It's important to remember that emotional intelligence requires constant improvement.
It's not a skill that you develop once and then forget about. As your business grows, you will grow with it, which means that you will have to adapt your style of relating to yourself and others.
Developing emotional intelligence is the best-kept secret for entrepreneurial success.
In the words of Daniel Goleman himself, “If your emotional abilities aren't in hand, if you don't have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can't have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”
The only way to develop emotional intelligence is by practicing it in action. Just like any skill that you want to master, it will require that you invest time, energy, hard work, and effort into it.
Are you ready to master the art of emotional intelligence? The success of your business depends on it.
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