Entrepreneurs can really benefit from being emotionally nimble. Building reputable brands, communicating their expertise, negotiating, collaborating, and networking are all part of the daily grind and form the critical building blocks for long-term success. But, here’s the thing. Without emotional intelligence, executing these activities can be difficult at best. At worse, futile.
Emotional blind spots impair perception, especially during interpersonal interactions. Cultivating a better understanding of emotions, as well as learning how to influence them, is therefore essential to improving every high-potential encounter.
Psychologist and Emotional Intelligence author Daniel Goleman has identified the core components of emotional intelligence as including self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Taken together, these skills can help entrepreneurs navigate the path toward creating and maintaining solid business relationships that thrive, and take success to higher levels.
If you’ve never considered the connection between emotional intelligence and entrepreneurship, here are five reasons why you should:
1. Strong social skills increase the likelihood of success. Let’s face it: No man (or woman) is an island entire of itself; though the ego may try to persuade you otherwise. As an entrepreneur, your ability to successfully connect with others and cultivate solid relationships is critical. Possessing these skills will determine how well people respond to you and naturally influences their decision to work with you now and in the future. The bottom line: It’s difficult for entrepreneurs to succeed without support from others. You can shift the odds in your favor by beefing up your social skills. But even if your social skills aren’t where they need to be, don’t be discouraged. You can work to cultivate them by increasing your emotional intelligence and making improvement a daily priority.
2. Grit and self-control help entrepreneurs get through tough times. University of Pennsylvania Psychologist Angela Duckworth is a national expert on grit, “the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long term goals” and self-control, “the voluntary regulation of behavioral, emotional, and attentional impulses in the presence of momentarily gratifying temptations or diversions.” Duckworth’s research reveals that emotional intelligence is essential to developing grit and self-control, since accessing and understanding emotions are core components of regulating emotional and behavioral impulses, as well as developing the fortitude to sustain interest and effort over long periods of time. These are fundamental skills that can easily make the difference between success and failure for an entrepreneur: They are crucial to confronting the all-too-familiar challenges of doubt, distractions, and fatigue.
3. Professional development enhances credibility. Expertise is often relevant in determining your ability to deliver value. However, even when armed with significant skills and experience, maintaining competence requires a life-long investment in learning: professional development. And, entrepreneurs must prioritize it just like any other important goal. How do you prioritize professional development? Emotional intelligence leads the way. It’s a major catalyst for releasing ego, recognizing blind spots, and embracing self-improvement. Essentially, it escalates professional development, which in turn, escalates expert credibility. This key shift deeply affects motivation and can catapult you towards even greater success.
4. Good decision-making skills are essential. Good decision-making is at the forefront of every entrepreneur’s day. With so many balls to juggle, understanding what’s at stake and how to process a sea of information is vital. Self-awareness is an important component. Knowing yourself and how you respond to external triggers will help you to maneuver as you consider the pros and cons of any outcome. For example, when making decisions of consequence (they all are, by the way) you want to eliminate the tendency to be impulsive, biased or reactive. As you boost your emotional intelligence, you become increasingly aware of barriers that undermine clear thinking, and can proactively remove them.
5. Effective communication skills are indispensable. Entrepreneurs who are skilled communicators are naturally poised to build rapport and connect with others. As social skills go, effective communication is one of the most coveted. It opens doors, resolves conflict, and seals deals. What is less understood, however, is the role that empathy plays in structuring effective communication and helping to ignite connectedness with others. Empathy helps you to acknowledge the needs and perspectives of others (as opposed to merely bolstering your own) while building much-desired connections. As the saying goes, ‘when you help others get what they want, they help you get what you want.’ It’s really that simple. When this process works, it seems almost effortless. But that’s because the magic is in mastering your emotions and creating synergy authentically.
Entrepreneurs can reap tremendous gains from cultivating emotional intelligence. While technical expertise may be a prerequisite to entry, soft skills mastery is the linchpin that drives long-term success. Interested in seeing where you fare on the EQ scale? Take the test here.
To your success.
Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq. is the founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, an international consulting firm specializing in professional development. Follow her on Twitter: @wsrapport or visit her website, www.wordsmithrapport.com.