When it comes to the business world, ownership is not synonymous with leadership. People don’t look up to you just because you own the company. Being a leader is a choice you make every day to inspire, guide and motivate your team. On the other hand, the responsibility of the entrepreneur to the staff stops when the wages are paid. The question you need to ask yourself is: How do you bridge the gap between ownership and leadership?
Learning to become a trusted and respected leader begins with the realisation that you can’t afford to fall behind entrepreneurial tasks. In a small business environment, you have to multitask and become the business owner who knows how to lead the team. The leader empowers the team to thrive, but the business owner gives them the tools to work. You already understand the role of effective mentoring and training to run your business more effectively. A true leader is someone who injects emotional intelligence into day-to-day management needs.
Empathy refers to the ability to recognise how the people around you feel, even though you may not be experiencing the same emotional response. The better you are at reading through other people’s signals and understand their feelings, the better you can control the signals you send. Lack of empathy comes at a high cost for the business. Take United Airlines CEO, Oscar Munoz, who failed to respond appropriately when a physician was forcibly dragged off a plane to leave his paid seat for the benefit of one of the company’s employees. Munoz released several statements before he came to realise that his failure to perceive the situation from the customer’s perspective led to a backlash. In his first statement, Munoz fully ignored the customer’s experience. In a second statement, the CEO blamed the customer for his lack of cooperation. Third time’s the charm, as Munoz finally came to his senses when faced with an overwhelmingly negative response. An empathy leader should be able to identify and ease the audience’s feelings.
Empathy is tightly linked to emotional awareness, as both skills rely on the ability to read feelings. An empathic leader can put themselves into someone else’s shoes to understand how a situation affects them. Emotional awareness, on the other hand, is the ability to recognise emotions as they occur, so you can learn to manage them. Compared to the general population, entrepreneurs are more likely to struggle with depression. But learning to recognise signs of internal turmoil can give you the tools you need to react. You may even take some online mental health first aid courses to have the tools to tackle negativity before it affects you and others. The more aware you are of how you feel, the more emotionally connected you can be to yourself and your team.
Clear and influential communication
A leader empowers those around them to achieve their goals. Your most powerful tool is communication. According to a study, inadequate communication cost small US companies $420,000 a year. You can expect similar results in a UK-based company. Ineffective communication clutters the message, confuses, and affects trust.
How well you do as an entrepreneur is determined both by your business skills and emotional intelligence (EQ). In fact, EQ contributes to your success by up to 90%, while your IQ and specialist knowledge count for roughly 10% to 20% according to psychologists. When are you getting on the emotional side of leadership?