Humans as they say, are social and emotional creatures. Our ability to have emotional feelings majorly seperates us from other animals. In fact, emotions are more difficult to understand and control than rational thoughts. Think about times you felt happy, angry, sad, in-love, fear, jealous, etc.
Emotional intelligence (emotional quotient/literacy/competence) is best taught in education as Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). It simply means a combination of
- intrapersonal intelligence (self-awareness & self-management);
- interpersonal intelligence (social-awareness & social-management);
- and responsible decision-making.
Here are three reasons why EQ matters in entrepreneurship development.
1. Personal Health and Productivity
Entrepreneurship comes with two major elements of personal development – self-control and time-management. Successful entrepreneurs generally have a good sense of self-control by managing their emotional well-being and as a result having high self-esteem. They also have a good understanding of their motivation and drive to achieve the various goals they identify/set for themselves. The life of the entrepreneur comes with various day-to-day tasks too, and so would require them to efficiently manage their time and resources while producing the most out of a healthy work-life balance. A common challenge in the entrepreneurial mind-set is the “fear of rejection” and with self-management, the approach of prospective customers becomes less of a constraint to our next EQ advantage (marketing & sales).
2. Marketing, Negotiations and Sales
The ability to market, negotiate and sell products & services is perhaps the most sought-after skill-set in entrepreneurship. How does EQ help the entrepreneurs though? In the world of marketing and sales, it is common knowledge that customers by on emotions and justify with logic. In other words, they buy stuff based on how it makes them feel as well as the fear it averts from their lives. They then reason-out why it makes sense for them to buy it [now]. It’s basically a case of “wants” vs “needs” and “benefits” vs “features”. Moreover, the psychology of persuasion also aids when doing transactions. This is where social-awareness comes in play. Many of the strategies in marketing, negotiation and sales work well because of the understanding of how people think and feel. Nevertheless, even value creation for the market becomes for effective if people’s ‘wants’ & ‘needs’ (through Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory) are considered during product development and customer service.
3. Leadership, Management and Networking
Part of the journey into entrepreneurship is having and exercising the ability to lead and manage people, whether within a team/project or as the entire organization. As you may already have guessed, this is a position requiring interpersonal intelligence and responsible decision-making. Just as in the world of 21st century schooling, collaboration and communication in organizations become important when fostering productivity among employees and teams. That is how the best companies achieve conflict-resolution and staff’s engagement with their vision and operations. Interpersonality is an attribute that eventually comes handy too when seeking to meet and relate with people of business interest (e.g. partners, sponsors, affiliates, etc.). In the current times that we exist, it has become important for entrepreneurs and companies to also be a living example to the rest of society in terms of sustainable development, hence having decisions and policies that positively impact their communities.
To conclude, there is a general notion that people who have high EQ (emotional quotient) means having low IQ (intelligence quotient), and vice versa. The TV show “Scorpion” depicts this well. There’s also the general view that women have better EQ than men. What’s important though, is the realization that emotional competence can be developed right from primary, secondary, tertiary, and on to continuous professional education. I personally am an advocate of Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) at secondary schools because of the period’s relevance in terms of transition from childhood to adulthood, thus key for character development.
“Emotional intelligence for an entrepreneur is the most underrated aspect for being successful in entrepreneurship.”– John D. Rockefeller (American business magnet and philanthropist, known as the wealthiest American of all time)
More information on emotional literacy can be found in Daniel Goleman’s CASEL, the lead researchers on SEL.