High Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is a strong predictor of success but despite all the research that has been done on this topic, many people still downplay its importance. In fact, high EQ bolsters hard skills, helping us think more creatively about how best to leverage our technical abilities.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is a social intelligence that enables people to recognise their own, and other peoples’ emotions. It is an intelligence that may be learned, developed and improved and is your ability to use your awareness to discern the feelings underlying interpersonal communication and to resist the temptation to react impulsively and thoughtlessly. Instead, it allows you to respond authentically.
Emotional Intelligence is about influence without manipulation or abuse of authority. It is about perceiving, learning, relating, innovating, prioritising and acting in ways that take into account and legitimise emotions, rather than relying on logic or intellect or technical analysis alone (Ryback, 1998).
It is your ability to use your emotions to intentionally guide your behaviour and thoughts in ways that enhance your results and life.
These skills provide you with ability to understand and manage your emotions, increase self worth and self confidence, develop resilience to challenges in business and life, ability to develop positive and rewarding relationships and increase your client base.
I have come across so many entrepreneurs and business owners that lack emotional intelligence and have, as a result struggled to scale their business, build good professional relationships with staff, customers and potential clients. Many are stuck feeling anxious, self sabotaging, procrastinating and jump from one business idea to another.
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Why Is Emotional Intelligence Important?
Studies have shown that people who are intellectually the brightest are often not the most successful, either in business or their personal lives.
Emotions serve as the single most powerful source of human energy, authenticity and drive. It provides us with vital and potentially profitable information every minute of the day. Our emotions comprise the feeling of who we are, even more than our bodies and minds contain our histories.
Having good emotional intelligence involves optimal functioning of your brain functions. The parts of the brain that help keep vigilant to danger and opportunities are very important in ensuring that you react appropriately to every day stressors and opportunities. By moderating your reaction to challenging people and situations, reading them correctly, you learn to moderate your flight or fight response into more socially acceptable responses. Being smart combines knowing what to do as well as how to do it best.
How Can Emotional Intelligence Make Entrepreneurs More Successful
1. Emotional Self-Awareness
“Who looks outside dreams. Who looks inside awakes.” – C.G Jung
We are raised to doubt ourselves, to discount intuition, and to seek outside validation for virtually everything we do. We are conditioned to assume that people other than ourselves know best and can tell us the honest truth more clearly than we could ever tell ourselves.
Emotional self awareness is your ability to be aware of and understand yours and others feelings and their impact. It’s your ability to accept and respect your strengths and weaknesses, with the ability to improve and pursue meaningful objectives.
Being able to identify and manage your emotional brain will empower you to hold yourself and others accountable to your best effort in all things. It’s the ability to discover your calling and face hardship and problems, but not live inside them.
Developing your ability to truly understand your deep thoughts, values and beliefs in your subconscious brain will enable you to respond to situations and adapt your behaviour accordingly to achieve the results you desire.
For example, understanding that your frustration comes from thinking you can’t change your circumstances, such as the financial results at work. You may try channelling this frustration into a more motivating emotion, such as excitement for a challenge, freeing up your mind from worry and allowing you the mental space to problem solve.
“We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves” – E Hoffer
2. Better management of emotions
There are many challenges on the path to success for any entrepreneur, such as disappointing launches, poor cash flow, dealing with angry customers or difficult clients. Our current climate is evidence of the world we live in now, great uncertainty, constant change and volatility, but with high emotional intelligence you can get better at thriving through these challenging and ambiguous times.
Entrepreneurship requires your ability to have increasing creativity, energy, collaboration, intuition, which you will get by developing high EQ.
Mounting evidence shows that how you feel about yourself and your work and how open you value yourself and others depends on how effectively you manage emotions and tension.
Being able to control your emotions and help others control theirs is key for building positive relationships with clients, investors and other important allies to your business.
3. Effective Communication
Communication means to create understanding and not merely to send information.
The ability to communicate clearly and effectively is important for any entrepreneur to ensure that the right message is given and received.
If people do not understand you, then you have not communicated your message effectively. It’s difficult to have a deep conversation with someone if you don’t empathise with them. If you can’t perceive and identify with the emotions of others, communication is more difficult and the message you try to relay will get compromised. Entrepreneurs with high emotional intelligence can leverage empathy, problem-solving, and social skills to come up with solutions, create strong positive relationships, and ultimately, win people over.
High emotionally intelligent people are self-motivated, are driven to excel in everything that they do and they find more room and reasons to improve. It’s developing your ability to keep striving to be a better version of yourself.
This is your ability to recognise, understand and feel the emotions of others. It’s having an understanding of the plight of others and being able to show compassion in the midst of their difficulties. Empathy unlike sympathy, involves actually sharing the emotional experience another person is having. When a friend loses a family member, sympathy is flowers and a hug — empathy is shedding tears alongside that friend, due to an emotional connection.
4. Know what your customers need
It’s easy to make assumptions about what your clients or audience wants but the best way to identify customer needs is to develop skills to be an active and attentive listener. The amount of times that I have seen people at networking meetings so busy telling others what they do, but don’t pay attention to that person and don’t even realise when they lose the persons interest.
If you listen and empathise with your customers, you’ll be able to see where you can improve your product or service to better suit their needs. Or, you’ll be able to find new ways to market more effectively to your audience.
How To Manage Change
Entrepreneurs can’t afford not to cultivate higher emotional intelligence. Research has shown that it’s the primary key to achieving success and high performance. Entrepreneurs are driven and motivated individuals, with an internal drive to succeed, but many often neglect the skills needed to manage their emotions and relate well to others. It’s difficult to improve emotional intelligence, but it’s absolutely possible—as long as you have an open mind and a willingness to put in the tough work.
How To Increase Your Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence can be developed and increased through practice. Here are some ways of doing that!
Listen to others:
Listening allows us to better understand the needs and emotions of others. Listening takes the focus off one’s own needs and shifts it to those of others, enabling better solutions that benefit more people.
Control your thoughts:
We cannot control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond to situations when we practice mindful thinking. Avoid jumping to quick conclusions and overgeneralising.
Be open to receiving feedback:
Feedback can sometimes be hurtful, but it can always be helpful, as it exposes us to objective outside perspectives. In the face of feedback or criticism, ask yourself: How can I improve and grow from this?
Pay attention to body language:
Much of communication is non-verbal, so if you only pay attention to verbal communication, you could be missing out on how a person really feels, and efforts to help them will thereby be misinformed.
Intentions get misunderstood and feelings get hurt regularly. Being alert to other peoples emotions and actions will help you develop stronger connections and build trust.
Manage Stress and Boost Your Resilience:
To overcome obstacles likes stress, you need to change your response to your situation. Our perspective of stress actually determines how we experience it.
When you look at a stressful situation as a challenge, it motivates you, increases your confidence and allows you to learn from the experience.
Resiliency consists of maintaining hope in the face of adversity that things will eventually get better while doing what it takes to make things happen.
Hear more about Emotional Intelligence from our recent podcast interview with Maureen Chiana Here.
Neuro Leadership & Resilience Leadership Consultant, Trainer, Speaker & Neurocoach
Maureen leverages on brain-science insights of how the brain works to empower executives, leaders and educators, to unlock potential, maximise performance, accelerate and embed new behaviours to enable them create a highly successful business, team and lifestyle effortlessly.
Maureen’s expertise is in behavioural change, using the latest findings from neuroscience to help people improve their quality of thinking to achieve sustainable success.