Many people think that having technical skills and a high IQ will put them on a firm footing to business success. While those two competences are important, they pale in importance when compared to the value of emotional intelligence in entrepreneurship. But, what is emotional intelligence and of what importance is it in entrepreneurship? The discussion below answers these and other such questions.
Emotional intelligence defined
Put simply, emotional intelligence refers to one’s ability to be self-aware with regard to their emotions as well as the emotions of the people around them. An emotionally intelligent person is able to not only identify their own and others’ emotions but also control and direct those emotions in helpful ways.
For example, if a customer is angry that they didn’t receive the product ordered in their preferred color, a person with emotional intelligence will put themselves in the customer’s shoes and understand their disappointment. As a result, the entrepreneur with high EQ will speak in a way that calms down the customer so that a mutually-beneficial solution is agreed upon.
In contrast, an entrepreneur with low EQ will lose their temper and probably shout back at the customer, something that is bound to end badly; at least with regard to the relationship of that business and that particular customer.
So, why is EQ important in entrepreneurship?
Effective identification of client needs
As we have mentioned before, emotionally intelligent entrepreneurs can effectively put themselves in their target clients’ position and see all their pain points. As a result, they are better able to craft products and services which are best suited to the needs of their clients.
Additionally, high emotional intelligence enables entrepreneurs to design marketing and sales communication in a way that will appeal to the needs of their customers. When you touch the hearts and minds of your clients through your marketing efforts, you win their loyalty and you will make sales.
Contrast this with what is said about Henry Ford in the early days of his motor vehicle making company. He is reported to have said that people can buy the iconic Model T in any color, as long as it was black! While he may have gotten away with it since he was a pioneer in the auto industry, today’s entrepreneur has to be more emotionally intelligent and supply goods that address the needs of the clients in as many respects as possible.
Effective team leadership
An entrepreneur who is emotionally intelligent also makes a more effective leader of their team because he or she is keenly aware of the feelings of the team and fosters an environment which allows the team to thrive.
Such an entrepreneur is better at conflict management and they can communicate organizational visions and goals more effectively. As a result, the entire team will pull in the same direction towards the attainment of the set goals.
Entrepreneurs with high EQ also know how to control their emotions, especially during challenging times. Without such emotional control, situations can easily spiral out of control, and the team could disintegrate, such as when the leader lashes out at team members instead of helping them to overcome their weaknesses.
Emotional intelligence allows an entrepreneur to be self-aware at all times. For example, they hold off from making an important decision when they are emotionally charged. High EQ individuals also know when to rev up on put on the brakes depending on their reading of the people around them.
For example, if a sales presentation is going well, a high EQ entrepreneur will move quickly to closing the deal at the precise moment when no objection is likely to be made.
As you can see, self-awareness and awareness of the feelings of those around you is critical in determining the timing of different steps or actions in your business.
How to increase/improve your emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is a skill that can be acquired, just like any other skill. Your first point of call in improving your EQ is therefore to read as much as you can about this subject from sources like the internet.
As you read on the topic, you will become aware of its different nuances and how you can apply its principles in your day-to-day life as an entrepreneur. For instance, if you read that it is helpful to know your core values if you want to be an authentic, emotionally intelligent entrepreneur, pause what you are reading and reflect on what your core values are. The value of anything you read lies in its application, so apply as many of the principles you learn as possible.
Be an empathetic listener
Many people don’t listen. Rather, they pause in their speech and wait for an opportunity to speak again. Put differently, many people listen with the objective of choosing what to reply, rather than listening in order to understand the other person’s point of view.
Emotional intelligence requires that you listen so that you can understand where the other person is coming from. Otherwise, how will you even be able to deeply connect with them if you can’t put yourself in their shoes?
Listening with a touch of empathy allows you to clearly identify how the other person is feeling. Is the person apprehensive or are they just shy? Is the person frustrated or are they angry that things didn’t go the way they wanted? EQ goes deeper than simply referring to feelings as good or bad.
Find a coach or mentor
Another way to grow your EQ is to find a mentor or work with a coach who will measure your progress and keep you accountable for the attainment of the improvement you seek. They say that you cannot see the picture if you are in the frame, so it may be difficult for you to be an unbiased judge of your progress. A coach or mentor takes the bias out and gives you honest feedback about how you are doing.
In closing, let us leave you with this incredible statistic about emotionally intelligent team leaders; employees are 400% less prone to quit their jobs if they work with a leader exhibiting high emotional intelligence. To put it another way, don’t be a robot, get out there and show some emotion!
To Your Success,