The concept of Emotional Intelligence (EI) has garnered a lot of attention in recent years, especially in relation to developing and maintaining successful businesses. Over time, the definition of emotional intelligence has changed, but the core values have remained consistent. According to the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), emotional intelligence encompasses four key strengths (Humphrey, 2013):
- Perceiving emotions accurately
- Using emotion to facilitate thought
- Understanding emotion
- Managing emotion (Humphrey, 2013).
Since entrepreneurship involves a significant amount of risk, negation, and collaboration, harnessing EI competencies allows innovators to navigate this process more effectively and improve the likelihood for success. Entrepreneurs who can harness these intelligences to transform their innovations and motivate their constituents can more easily create the resonance needed to give their idea momentum.
When a leader can perceive and understand the emotions of others accurately and objectively, they create a strong groundwork for identifying with their constituents, and what motivates their values and beliefs. Through awareness of emotions, and a genuine understanding of their source, entrepreneurs can harness the power of emotional intelligence to breed familiarity, trust and support amongst individuals in their organization. A detached leader will eventually lose the support of his or her constituents, as they may gradually start to believe that their organization values profit over people, and lacks a personal understanding of the values and beliefs which drive these emotions.
Receiving honest feedback, while potentially difficult to ingest, provides a strong basis for change in an organization. Emotionally intelligent entrepreneurs use this feedback to facilitate new ways of thinking about their idea, thereby improving the collective creativity and problem-solving within their organization. When a leader can successfully transform feedback into action, he or she instills a feeling of mutual support, genuine concern and desire for action in others. This opens the pathway for continuous feedback from employees and partners, improving the overall success and momentum of an innovation or business endeavor. It also further strengthens an innovator’s ability to handle challenging negotiations or close gaps in performance within their organization, as they have a clearer idea of the source of these problems. Along these lines, transformative leadership improves an organization’s ability to foster personal and professional development, leading to greater job-satisfaction amongst employees. Similarly, the transformation of emotion into productive thought and planning instills confidence amongst investors and stakeholders, improving the innovation’s viability and likelihood for future success.
Most importantly, successful leaders should seek to manage their own emotions effectively. Entrepreneurs face many challenges through the process of innovation, and a leader who is easily derailed at the sight of a roadblock or challenge will struggle to maintain the progress of the endeavor. Leaders set an example through their behavior, and have a great amount of influence over the “tone” within their organization. Uncontrolled emotional responses amongst leadership can lead to increased workplace stress, decreased job satisfaction and productivity, and unexpected business failure. It can also discourage honest feedback or creative problem-solving amongst constituents, which hampers success, since entrepreneurs rely heavily on constituents to influence change, and develop and manifest ideas. Emotional control and a maintaining a constructive emotional response becomes critical for entrepreneurs. Ultimately, it allows innovators to more effectively interface with executors – the individuals responsible for launching and developing the strategies which make a venture successful.
The process of innovating can be daunting, and endlessly challenging without the use of emotional intelligence competencies. Leaders can employ these competencies to develop better business strategies, align values within their organization, and inspire collaboration with stakeholders and constituents alike. As discussed, emotional intelligence paves the path to resonance, a growing concept in entrepreneurial and organizational success. It takes a dynamic individual to come up with a new idea, but an emotionally intelligent leader to transform that idea into a successful innovation.
Humphry, Ronald H. (2013). The benefits of emotional intelligence and empathy to entrepreneurship. Special Issue – A New Business Model: The Emotional Dimension of Organizations, 3(3): 287-294. doi: 10.1515/erj-2013-0057.
Zakarevicius, P. & Zuperka, A. (2010). Expression of emotional intelligence in development of students’ entrepreneurship. Economics & Management, p. 865-873.
Jeanette Neuner is an entrepreneur, artist and thinker and is currently enrolled in the Masters of Business Administration program at Western Carolina University. Webmasters and other article publishers are hereby granted article reproduction permission as long as this article in its entirety, author’s information, and any links remain intact. Copyright 2017 by Jeanette Neuner.