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Why you need emotional intelligence to successfully run a business

Why you need emotional intelligence to successfully run a business



Why you need emotional intelligence to successfully run a business

Ever wondered why some small business or 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”.startup, business, emotional intelligence

Basically, emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to recognise, understand, and manage one’s feelings and emotions, as well as those of others.

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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:

  1. Self-Awareness:

 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.

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You become more open to feedback, whether positive or negative. Rather than get offended by criticism, you learn from them.

  1. Self-regulation: 

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.

  1. 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.

  1. Empathy

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.

[READ ALSO:Hey SMEs! This is why you should track your Ads by Akin Alabi(Opens in a new browser tab)]

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  1. 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.

[READ ALSO:]This is how our favourite billionaires spend their weekend (Opens in a new browser tab)

Case study: Elon Musk is the co-founder and CEO at Tesla.

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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.

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Characteristics of emotionally intelligent people

  1. They stay positive and manage difficult situations successfully.
  2. Make thoughtful decisions.
  3. They keep their emotions under control and discuss sensitive issues maturely and thoughtfully.
  4. Empathetic to their workers
  5. They have a strong positive influence on their team.
  6. Are calm under pressure.
  7. They know how to earn the respect of clients and employees.
  8. Listen more often than they speak.
  9. Can admit their mistakes and learn from them.
  10. 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.

Read Also: TD shines in far-away Mauritius, claims Philips Partner of the Year award

EQ in business makes you:

  • Decisive

You are willing to step out of your comfort zone and make tough decisions.

  • Influential

Influence is an important factor in the world of business. You have the ability to persuade and motivate people.

  • Motivated

EQ maintains your energy level, passion, drive, and enthusiasm for work.

  • Adaptable

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.

  • Resilient

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.

  • Conscientious

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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Pause before you speak, act, or respond

Give yourself time for initial impulses to fade so you can reflect and reason clearly.

  1. 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.

[READ ALSO: This is how our favourite billionaires spend their weekend (Opens in a new browser tab)]

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

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  1. 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.



  1. CEO Investment

    May 3, 2019 at 6:48 am

    This is wonderful I love this so much thank a lot you have blessed my days.

  2. Anonymous

    May 4, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    Great piece. Thanks

  3. David

    August 5, 2019 at 5:23 pm

    Very thoughtful article. I just might add that emotional intelligence also helps one to delay gratification for future gain.

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Career tips

Great tips for landing a job during this lockdown

The coronavirus pandemic has had its impact on job opportunities, but here are some tips for landing jobs.



Some tips for landing a job during this lockdown

The economic lockdown and movement restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on job opportunities. Some of them could be in the form of job losses, getting new jobs, or even changing the way we work.

Given the unemployment numbers especially in these challenging times, it might be hard not to be apprehensive.

According to a report from Bloomberg, Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for personal finance website, said, “It’s important to remember that there is hiring happening. There’s always attrition and individuals leaving for other jobs.”

Robin Ryan, a career counsellor, said that just a few unemployed people are job hunting at the moment. Most believe that there are no jobs, they can’t be hired, or that only lower-level jobs are available.

Here are some tips for landing jobs during this lockdown.

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Beat the system: Make a list of your recent jobs and your top accomplishments at each of them. Those are the items that should be on your résumé. To get past automated applicant vetting systems, enter your work tasks—budgeting, project management, graphic design, team leadership, etc.—in the first bullet point under each job. Don’t include extraneous formatting, such as text boxes, tables, footers, or headers, because application software can’t recognize it.

(READ MORE:Skills Africa needs for sustainable development)

Assess your prospects: You have to find out if the opportunities in your industry are shrinking. According to Hamrick, “many people fail to see that their skills might apply to a variety of settings.” Consider some of the sectors that have stayed open in the lockdown—finance, real estate, food and other consumer goods, technology, and retail, plus suppliers and distributors for each. If that exercise doesn’t yield much, think about how your skills might help companies sharpen their online business. “There’s a need for people to help facilitate digital transformation,” Hamrick says.

Some tips for landing a job during this lockdown

Hit up recruiters (Recruiting agency firms): Let them help you with your resume and offer suggestions about things you might do to stand out.

Use your resources: Companies are filling positions needed to support virtual workers as part of their pandemic strategies. Many company websites might not yet reflect these changes, so try popular online job search websites, type in a company and your city, and you’ll get a better sense of what kind of hiring is going on.


Network: That friend-of-a-friend who previously ignored you. He’s home now and might be up for a quick Zoom coffee date. Connect with everyone you know in your field. (LinkedIn is good for this.). Those connections build on each other. You can ask mutual acquaintances to introduce you to people who can help and once that happens, you can fix a virtual coffee date. If that goes well, ask for an introduction to a hiring manager or supervisor. You’ve got nothing to lose.


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Career tips

Millennials changing the definition of work; doing the most with freelancing

Given the numerous number of changes in today’s world, millennials are gradually changing the definition of work, and beginning to embrace freelancing.



Millenials, Freelancing

Given the numerous changes in today’s world, millennials are beginning to embrace freelancing. It is not just about thinking outside the 9-5 work hours, they are gradually changing the definition of work. This signals a new relationship between the worker and the economy; it is not just where they are working. It is what they are working for.

Millennials do not see companies as salary machines and do not also see themselves as ‘another chair-filler’. They actually see themselves as having the power to make choices, and their decision to work in one place or another is about finding value, not just the luxurious life attached to a conventional job.

[READ ALSO: Nigerian Millennials have figured where to invest their money]

How Millennials make the most of freelancing

Skills over degree

Nearly half of millennials have tried freelancing, and nearly three-quarters of freelancers say it is getting easier to find work. Most millennials begin their journey into freelancing by discovering their passion and finessing their skills in order to look unique. They often find time to develop themselves outside the scope of their disciplines by attributing more values to skill acquisition than conventional degrees. With unique skills like photography, graphic design, content creation, etc. millennials are able to make enough money to pay their bills and afford their lifestyles.

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Working Remotely

Millennials are taking advantage of working remotely. Working remotely affords millennials the much-needed flexibility they need in their daily routines. Working remotely also helps improve the productivity of millennials, unlike conventional workers. This way, they are free from distractions that cannot be taken care of. It is amazing that working remotely can have millennials working straight for 8 hours without thinking of food or break.

READ ALSO: Tech Startups should emulate Konga – EX Unilag VC

Gigs rather than restrictive job functions

Millennials use freelancing as an opportunity to harness their creative abilities rather than focusing on restrictive job functions. Millennials get certain jobs called side gigs which can help them explore their creativity. They figure out who their clients really are and what they want from them. More importantly, is that millennials find an untapped market and then quickly build a huge customer base on it which will be making enough cash in short notice.

Networking for Growth

Gone are the days when business cards were fashionable. This is because people do not really remember business cards. Millennials use networking as a way of getting to know the persons behind the business. They look for a spark in any conversation that a relationship can be built upon. Also, through the use of social media platforms, millennials are also able to collaborate to ensure the growth of the freelance economy.

Millenials, Freelancing

[READ ALSO: Millennials are becoming parents and school fees are getting more expensive]



Finding a freelance platform that affords skilled professionals flexibility and opportunities to grow is a concern for millennials. TERAWORK is a highly recommended freelancing platform that provides freelancers with an opportunity to work on flexible schedules, get rid of the daily commute process and have a perfect balance between work and professional life; not only because it affords local and international millennials opportunities to harness their skills, but the platform also allows these skilled individuals to showcase their past work experience and provide them with the access to new jobs every day.

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Career tips

12 lessons on business strategy from the game of Chess

Are you a chess player? Well, not a lot of people are. Therefore, if your answer is no, you really need to try it. After all, it is called “the game of kings and queens” for a reason.



game of Chess

Are you a chess player? Well, not a lot of people are. Therefore, if your answer is no, you really need to try it. After all, it is called “the game of kings and queens” for a reason.

Chess is a board game that has been around for centuries. It has to do with the art of war. It’s all about strategy, tactics, and the ability to outmaneuver your opponent; the final aim being to checkmate them (that is, capture their king). Once that happens, the game is over.

Chess has been shown to:

  • Improve IQ
  • Build confidence
  • Improve problem-solving skills
  • Teach planning and foresight
  • Improve concentration
  • Exercise both sides of the brain
  • Improve memory
  • Enhance creativity

It’s quite obvious that these benefits are indispensable when it comes to successfully running a business; especially if you are in a highly competitive market.

What goes on in the game is the perfect metaphor for business competition. In fact, you can learn a thing or two by playing chess. These lessons will prove very useful to you if you are an entrepreneur trying to plant your feet and control considerable market share. It will surely improve your ability to make sound business decisions.

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No wonder you can find a Chessboard in the home or office of top CEOs (Bill Gates, Peter Thiel), world leaders (Barack Obama, Bill Clinton) and even famous TV personalities (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Julia Roberts of Pretty Woman).

How does playing chess relate to running a business?

The parallels between chess and business are clearly evident. The game is about war; specifically about protecting the invaluable piece (the king), and outthinking the opponent who’s trying to defeat you.

There are different strategies for both offensive and defensive play, and the best chess players should have experience with both. As a business person, you need to successfully navigate defensive and offensive positions in your industry.

If you’ve seen people play chess, or maybe you play, you’ll notice that the opponents patiently wait their turn, study the board, anticipate their next move, and go through potential scenarios in their head. This is not so different from what is obtainable in the business world.

Both are based on SWOT analysis. That is, recognizing your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Chess also involves an opening, a middle game, and an endgame. This is quite similar to the business cycle (expansion, peak, contraction, and trough).


What lessons does chess teach?

To play the game you first have to master the rules, understand the players, and ultimately, play to win.

  1. Master the rules

Before you can take part, you have to learn the rules. That’s also the way it is in business.

If you jump in without first understanding the dynamics of how things work, including consumer demand, market regulations, pricing techniques, and what have you, you are most likely headed for failure. That is why it’s important to start small and grow gradually, expanding your reach as you get more experienced.

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  1. Understand the players

Just like in chess, you need to understand your competition if you want to succeed in business.

Chess players spend time studying how their opponents think. This way, they can device countermeasures that will enable them to stay ahead, withstand an attack, and make a counter-attack.

That’s exactly what you need to do as an entrepreneur. Learn what your competitors are doing. Who are they? What are they offering consumers that you are not? How can you make your products, services, and marketing efforts better? These and many more are important questions you have to ask yourself.

  1. Play to win

In chess, you have to keep the ultimate goal in mind. If you play emotionally or succumb at the first signs of hardship, you won’t win. You have to be ready to make tough choices.

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[Read Also: 46-years after, Mr. Bigg’s is not so big anymore]

Some people play conservatively. They hang on tight to their pieces and refuse to make sacrifices. That’s also the way it is in business. To achieve your goals, you have to stay flexible. Know when to make adjustments, whether in your product combinations, management techniques, or marketing efforts.

Always keep your eyes on the big picture.

  1. Don’t rush to make a move; there might be a better one.

Inexperienced players stop searching for a move once they’ve located a good one. They forget there might be a better one.

In business, you have to make sure you make choices based on the complete set of information from the whole landscape. Don’t jump into the first option that looks good. Consider all your options.

  1. Plan several moves ahead

Chess players plan their moves and consider potential responses to those moves. Experienced players foresee moves several turns ahead. That’s how they manage to outwit their opponent.

[Read Also: Entrepreneurship isn’t all that glamorous – Jason Njoku]

This is what you must do as an entrepreneur. Making a good forecast is crucial to business success.

You also need to device contingency plans for situations that may arise in the future. “We’ll figure it out when we get there” might be a risky proposition you won’t be able to afford.

  1. Don’t play the plan; play the board

When playing chess, your opponent constantly devices measures to undermine your plans.

While it is important to make plans, it’s even more so to know when to abandon them or simply make adjustments.

While you have your business strategies in place, competitors are also applying their own to capture more market share than you do. Your aim should not be to follow a rigid set of plans. What determines your success or failure is your ability to adapt well and on time and respond effectively to counter what your competitors are doing.

  1. Know the value of the pieces

Each chess piece has a specific value. By knowing them, you are better suited to make decisions on how to place them across the board.

Similarly, when you know the value of your employees, customers, and associates, it will be easier to make wise decisions regarding job responsibilities, consumer targeting, and many more.

[Read Also: It’s time to break Nescafe’s two-decade grip on Nigeria’s coffee market]

  1. Manage your resources

To win, learn how to manage your resources.

In business, this applies to cash. If you run out of cash, you are done. You need to make sure you are not overspending. Every single expense you make should earn profit. Nothing should be wasted. You also need to ensure you are raising money appropriately as you go. Your expenses should never exceed your revenue.

  1. Keep an eye on the clock

“Time is material” – this is a common saying in chess.

You not only have to manage your pieces, you also have to manage time.

In a tournament setting, the games are timed so you have a limited period to make a number of moves.

It doesn’t matter if you are beating your opponent on the board, once you run out of time, you lose and your opponent takes the game, although you were doing exceptionally well on the board.

To prepare, players spend months or even years memorizing potential strategies and moves. This way, they can recall at a moment’s notice the move they have to make so they won’t spend too much time thinking.

This is why it is important to prepare in advance. A wise entrepreneur can make decisions which appear to be quick, but in reality, are a result of months of study and preparation.

  1. Make sacrifices

In chess, you learn to make necessary sacrifices that will give you the upper hand, or enable you to capture the king (Checkmate!). There are situations where you have to offer up a piece with intentions of gaining an advantage later on.

  1. Learn the value of patience

Before you can attack effectively, you have to take time to place your pieces in effective positions. A premature attack might backfire. The same idea is obtainable in business. Avoid making rash moves. Only make a move when everything is in place. For instance, don’t be in a hurry to start a business or launch a new product before conducting market research, no matter how excited you are about it.

  1. Create a balance between skill and intuition

There’s a balance in chess between intuition and analysis. There is always a human element that can’t be replaced by months or years of study and preparation. Chess is an infinite game with millions of possible moves. Therefore, it’s not possible to know and plan for every contingency. There are moments when you have to make a move based on intuition.

Once a player finds the balance between intuition and skill, their game improves remarkably. Many great chess players have come out on top a number of times when they went with their gut rather than their skills.

As an entrepreneur, you need to find this balance. It is what thinking outside the box is all about. It is also the key to creativity and great achievements and may be the difference between success and failure. Be it unique marketing campaigns, new and unique products and services, and other products of intuition.

In conclusion,

If you want to succeed in business, you have to be ruthless. This is exactly what chess is about.

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