Whether you consider yourself an entrepreneur, a business owner, or a CEO, there are few things more valuable in business than emotional intelligence. What might come to mind are emotions and empathy but what many people often don't realize is that emotional intelligence (also called EQ) includes scores of competencies: problem-solving, conflict resolution, forecast thinking, resiliency, visionary leadership, prioritizing, and the ability to respond instead of reacting, to name only a few.
Emotional Intelligence Is Imperative for Business Success
Our article, "The History of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace" outlines some robust findings on how EQ creates successful companies.
The goal of business is to succeed, yet more fail than survive. Many more might be surviving but don't thrive. Fast Company states: "As many as 75 percent of venture-backed companies never return cash to investors." That's an astonishing loss.
To succeed, we must be able to look at the big picture while also taking practical and effective actions in the day-to-day operations. As Peter Drucker, the prominent consultant said, "There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all." If there's not an enlightened plan, then business leaders and owners alike find themselves in reaction to the market and their competitors, which makes much of their actions unnecessary or even destructive.
If the lessons of past mistakes are not learned, or leaders can't effectively govern themselves, they struggle to lead their businesses successfully.
Many entrepreneurs and business owners start off on a path of great excitement and anticipation. What most people don't realize before they start a business is that there is a whole universe of knowledge and skill sets that are necessary to succeed. One of the most vital is the emotional intelligence skills set.
To learn more about the four main components of EQ, read "What Is Emotional Intelligence?"
In working with companies as a Relationship Strategist and Human Resources consultant, my observation is that owners, leaders, and entrepreneurs are most often highly competent at their trade. However, although they are skilled at their job, many don't anticipate the major challenges that arise in human relationships when running a business. The immense task of managing the human element while also inspiring people to do exceptional work leaves many baffled. Having a big vision without a plan isn't enough to make it. Every business owner and leader come with their personal habits (positive and negative), personalities, and styles that dramatically affect a team and the running of a business.
Daniel Goleman put it eloquently in his book, Primal Leadership:
"Leaders face ever-increasing pressures, including globalization and the economic roller coaster, the hyper-speed of evolving information technologies, the shortening of product life cycles, and the ratcheting up of competitive forces, to name a few.
This whirlwind of change makes it more important than ever for leaders to be self-aware and composed, focused and high energy, empathetic and motivating, collaborative and compelling—in short, resonant."
Notice in Goleman's words how the yin and yang both need to be present. It is impossible in today's culture to build a company without agility AND the ability to scale. A business cannot survive today without firmly planting its feet in the soil of expanding knowledge and continual learning. High emotional intelligence needs to be a priority for every business leader.
Common Mistakes of Businesses Owners and Entrepreneurs
1 The fallacy of "do what you love and the money will come!"
One of the rudest awakenings for entrepreneurs and new business owners (and struggling ones) is that they no longer get to do what they love. They are too overwhelmed with running a business. Daily frustrations of dealing with a multitude of decisions, employee issues, and a market that doesn't support a product or service often thwart passion. Of course, passion is a helpful ingredient, but it must be matched with equal parts of practicality, focus, hard work, and business smarts. Business is a costly way to learn in the school of hard knocks!
2 Dream big without taking practical actions
One of the most important skills a leader can have is big picture thinking and inspiring others through their vision of what is possible. However, envisioning and executing are two very different skills. Many business owners bite off too much. Every vision needs to be reinforced by action and a practical plan of execution. Without both, a business is severely limited.
I know of one business owner who met challenges with a well-oiled avoidance technique. Every time he was stumped, he'd come up with a new idea, bigger vision, or an entirely different direction to keep the excitement alive. This strategy distracted him from the unpleasant realities of a failing business but rarely solved the real problems at hand—a cherished recipe that results in a business disaster. And another great example of how governing ourselves is critical in business.
3 Slip-shot hiring
Hiring successfully requires a slew of emotional intelligence skills. Many business owners and leaders are untrained in reading people or know how to sort through applicants to spot padded resumes.
Also, the timing of when to hire is like walking a tight-rope. It's helpful to relieve the stress of growing demands; however, premature hiring devours cash flow. Many businesses take a costly and untimely nose-dive to extinction when hiring too many employees, too fast. The opposite mistake of waiting too long before hiring results in desperate actions that fuel unwise decisions and often provide too little time and preparation for the hiring process.
There are many platforms and applications to help business owners and leaders to help with hiring. So many that it becomes the new quandary. The accelerated rate of apps and services makes it unwieldily to keep up with the rapid change. Separating the top candidates from mediocre still comes down to reading people.
If you're looking to sharpen your emotional EQ or leadership skills, Heartmanity can help. With a 20-year track record of working with businesses and teaching emotional intelligence, this investment will pay dividends. Call 406-577-2100 now to see how we can assist in key areas of your business and leadership needs. Check out our business resources.