5 Reasons Entrepreneurs Should Cultivate Emotional Intelligence

Think business smarts is all you need to succeed as an entrepreneur? Think again.

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.

[Related: 5 Strategies for Building Your Emotional Intelligence]

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.

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