Being a successful entrepreneur requires many qualities: intelligence, time management, discipline, and motivation, among many others. But in the uber-competitive business landscape of today, can increase empathy separate businesses from the rest of the pack?

Daniel Goleman, a prominent behavioural science expert, certainly believes so, claiming that 80 per cent of adult success comes from emotional intelligence (EQ).

In a business sense, this means that those who go the extra mile have a much higher chance of succeeding.

This ability to discern our feelings – and those of others – actually makes us more successful entrepreneurs. Here is why entrepreneurs with high EQ tend to be more successful in the workplace.

High EQ means high connectivity

High EQ helps entrepreneurs find success in multiple ways– most prominently in forming connections with employees, investors, and customers. 

In regards to employees, a high EQ promotes a feeling of belonging amongst your workforce. When employees don’t feel emotionally connected to their leader, they are less likely to feel valued, which in turn affects productivity.

Furthermore, a high-EQ leader is able to convince their employees to trust them enough to share their specific knowledge or any issues they face.

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Having high connectivity with your employees can also result in being able to identify a problem within your team. For example, in the case of an under-performing marketing executive, a CEO is much better able to identify if it’s a role problem, a person problem, or a resource problem.

Because they hold a high EQ, they are in a much better position to make a quality employee decision.

A high EQ also allows you to connect with potential investors because building a relationship with them simply makes them like you better. Hence, they are much more likely to put in the extra effort while working with someone they enjoy being around.

An entrepreneur in control of their emotions is also a more skilled negotiator. Displaying an aura of calm in a stressful situation is likely to win an investor’s confidence in your abilities.

Investors often rely on their gut feeling about a person to determine if the person is coachable or too egoistic. If you’re rigid, people sense it, and your negotiating skills will suffer for it.

Lastly, a high EQ can help you to read and understand your customers, giving you the ability to update and improve your products rapidly. Sometimes customers are too nice to give it to you straight and tell you that your product isn’t easy to use.

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So being able to read their response allows you to quickly tell which part of the product flow needs some changes.  

A high EQ also lets customers feel emotionally attached to your service and hence remain loyal to your brand. For example, Apple is able to connect really well with its users so that customers feel the need to purchase and stay updated with their products.

CEOs need a high EQ to thrive

TalentSmart study found on average, CEOs have the lowest EQ scores in the workplace compared to other positions. This can harm the company in the long-term, because a leader with low in EQ stays out of touch with employees and investors, eventually leading to burnout.

A leader with high EQ has many desirable qualities that make them more successful. CEOs such as Jeff Bezos, Ursula Burns, and Elon Musk, are known to be highly intelligent CEOs, whose control on their emotions and ability to connect with people has rendered them successful.

To increase their EQ, CEOs need to develop a greater sense of self-awareness – if CEOs are aware of the decisions they make and are able to reflect on the consequences while making them, they never lose sight of the big picture.

Cultivating an EQ culture in your startup

When a startup begins with only a few employees, it’s easy to keep connected with everyone. But when a company starts growing it can be hard for the CEO to touch base with everyone individually on a consistent basis.

The best way a CEO can this is by connecting with those working directly under them. The people directly below the CEO are the eyes and ears of the company, so connecting with them emotionally is important to set an example for how they then behave with their own subordinates. 

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Greater self-control is another effective way to increase EQ. When leaders in a startup are able to control their emotions and remain calm, the rest of their employees will follow suit. 

Emotionally distressed employees don’t work at their optimum level. You should also encourage your team to express themselves – talking about feelings with peers or seniors will allow them to brainstorm ideas, ultimately improving the bottom line.

These days, entrepreneurs must go the extra mile to stand out from their competitors and find success. Those that don’t aim to increase their levels of emotional intelligence will indeed miss out on the many benefits that come from having a high EQ, including happier employees, better relationships with customers, and more high-quality relationships with investors.

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