Ever wondered why some small businesses grow over the years to become worldwide brands, while others remain redundant or even fail?
While there are a number of contributing factors, at the end of the day, it all boils down to the abilities, decisions, and grit of the business owners.
Are you in business to make some loose change (cash), or are you in the game with a higher purpose – to make great progress in your industry and play with the big boys and girls? If you choose the latter, this article is for you. Keep reading to discover the required puzzle piece.
What is emotional intelligence?: This concept was first introduced in the 90s by John Mayer (from New Hampshire University), and Peter Salovey (from Yale University). Psychologist, Daniel Goleman, later redefined the concept in 1996 in his book “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ”.
Basically, emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to recognise, understand, and manage one’s feelings and emotions, as well as those of others.
It takes more than just good business sense or the right skillset to run a high-value venture. You need EQ to manage your employees, withstand downtimes, respond constructively to criticism, and rise above various challenges that may assail you from every angle.
Components of EQ: Emotional intelligence has the following components:
Being self-aware means you recognize and understand your emotions and moods, as well as your strengths and weaknesses. You know that every decision you make has a consequence, which can also affect other people.
You become more open to feedback, whether positive or negative. Rather than get offended by criticism, you learn from them.
Are you able to express your emotions maturely? Self-regulation enables you not to respond impulsively. You address your feelings in a positive and constructive manner.
- Internal motivation
Emotionally intelligent people do not rely on external factors (such as money, titles, or what people think about them) to get motivated. They pursue their goals for reasons of self-development and personal gratification. They have an inner drive that keeps them going and are able to withstand disappointments and defeats.
Empathy is the ability to recognize, understand, and feel the emotions of others. It involves sharing other people’s feelings and genuinely responding to their needs. It is not the same as sympathy, which has to do with pity without actually stepping into the person’s shoes.
- Social skills
One of the most vital abilities you should possess, whether you are in business or not, is interacting with people and forming positive relationships. Emotionally intelligent people know how to build trust and respect with those they come in contact with. They are skilled in building networks and managing relationships.
Because they are good at the first four components of EQ, they create genuine, non-competitive friendships and strong bonds with employees and clients.
Case study: Elon Musk is the co-founder and CEO at Tesla.
When confronted with a claim that employee injuries at Tesla was 30% above the industry standard, Musk displayed the 4th component of emotional intelligence in his response.
He sent an email to all employees committing to personal accountability. In the email, he said he sincerely cares for their safety and well-being, and it breaks his heart whenever an employee sustains an injury while building Tesla cars.
He then asked to be directly notified of such cases. This way, he can meet with the affected employees and also attempt to perform their tasks to identify what needs to be improved upon so as to avoid future injuries.
He made a statement saying managers at Tesla strive to lead from the front line, rather than from a safe and comfortable ivory tower. Every manager must put the safety of their team before their own.
Characteristics of emotionally intelligent people
- They stay positive and manage difficult situations successfully.
- Make thoughtful decisions.
- They keep their emotions under control and discuss sensitive issues maturely and thoughtfully.
- Empathetic to their workers
- They have a strong positive influence on their team.
- Are calm under pressure.
- They know how to earn the respect of clients and employees.
- Listen more often than they speak.
- Can admit their mistakes and learn from them.
- Take criticism well.
How important is emotional intelligence in business?: You may notice that the five components of EQ have a strong influence on the way business owners make decisions, manage time, and handle stress, and so on.
Success in business requires making the right decisions. That won’t be possible when you can’t manage your emotions.
Business has to do with finding opportunities in difficult situations. Without emotional intelligence, you can easily succumb to challenges and fail to take advantage of hidden advantages in seemingly chaotic situations.
Furthermore, the modern workplace is characterized by teamwork and mutual respect among business partners, clients, as well as employees and their supervisors. Business owners who communicate well with their team perform better than those who do not. And without emotional intelligence, good relationships and effective communication won’t be possible.
EQ in business makes you:
You are willing to step out of your comfort zone and make tough decisions.
Influence is an important factor in the world of business. You have the ability to persuade and motivate people.
EQ maintains your energy level, passion, drive, and enthusiasm for work.
You desire and enjoy variety in the workplace. You keep an open mind in your management approaches and ensure your business stays afloat through various market conditions.
You are able to withstand stress and deal with the day to day pressures of managing a growing business. When you face an unpleasant customer or employee, you control your emotions when provoked.
Bestir yourself to meet deadlines and have well-laid plans.
How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence: EQ is something that can be developed over time. All it takes is a little bit of practice.
Here’ re the things you have to do:
- Communicate your feelings
When offended or upset, let the person involved know in a calm, non-threatening manner. This way, they hear what you have to say. You can then ensure the problem doesn’t repeat itself in the future.
- Try to control your thoughts
This is a very crucial factor. Most times, our minds are filled with the most random thoughts that are often detrimental to our goals.
You cannot control some circumstances, or the emotions you feel at certain times. But you can control how you respond by learning to direct your thoughts.
When something bad happens, it won’t help to blame yourself or someone else. Instead, focus on a solution or simply take responsibility and learn from it.
- Pause before you speak, act, or respond
Give yourself time for initial impulses to fade so you can reflect and reason clearly.
- Handle criticism positively
Though some criticism can be hurtful, they can also be helpful. Sometimes, it’s the only way to recognize how you truly stand. It also helps you think outside the box. When you get criticized, ask yourself if there’s something you need to learn from it and how you can grow and improve.
- Listen to others
When you listen, you are better able to understand the emotions and needs of others. It shifts the focus away from you and makes you more open-minded. This way, you can make advised choices and create solutions that work.
- Pay attention to body language
The greater part of communication is non-verbal. When you listen with your ears only, it’s easy to miss important cues on how a person really feels. You may then be easily misled. Paying attention to body language therefore helps you take timely action (or inaction) and build stronger relationships.
- Make an effort to see from another’s point of view
When in disagreement, try to identify the emotions and motivations that may be directing the person’s opinions and priorities. Ask the reason behind their thoughts and actions and try to genuinely understand them. This will help you find common ground.
- Praise others
When you make a habit of praising others, you train your mind to focus on the good in people. This builds your ability to empathize, so you can better understand the needs and motivations of others. Praise also makes people less defensive. It encourages open-mindedness and the willingness to discuss difficult or awkward issues. It makes people more open to opposing thoughts.
- Learn to apologise
Misunderstandings can occur and people’s feelings get hurt. Knowing when to apologize shows compassion. It is a sure way to build trust, respect, and long-lasting relationships.
Emotional intelligence determines your overall well-being and success in life.
It is becoming increasingly clear why EQ is important in business, and in leadership. In a diverse world that’s getting smaller and smaller, developing your EQ is necessary if you want to:
- Build and maintain strong relationships
- Make the right choices
- Provide solutions to difficult situations and scale through hard times
- Have the ability to multitask
- Stay focused on your goals regardless of any setback.