Emotional Intelligence and Small Business Leadership

Emotional intelligence is becoming one of most talked about concepts in the business and leadership world today. However, some of you still may be in the dark about this concept, and why so many people are talking about its importance.

As explained by this infographic by University of Maryland, emotional intelligence consists of “Skills used to understand and manage emotions effectively. Emotion is seen as separate from will or cognition; intelligence is cognitive.”

Emotional intelligence is a hugely beneficial trait to have in all walks of life. However, it is especially vital for anyone within leadership in small business and, moving forward, this importance will only continue to grow as more and more people begin to recognize its benefits.

While there are many aspects of small business leadership that benefit from the application of emotional intelligence, here are five that we have identified as particularly important, and how emotional intelligence can help.


The ability to motivate those around you is a vital trait for a leader to possess. After all, if nobody will follow you, then who are you even leading? Are you actually a leader?

When it comes to your employees, there are obviously intellectual factors like pay and job security that can serve as motivation, but these will only get you so far as a leader. Your employees may follow your lead in order to maintain these ideas, but it’s unlikely that they will totally buy in and go above and beyond with their work for you unless you can connect with them on an emotional level as well.

Find Unique Solutions

Having emotional intelligence makes you more likely to to draw from a wide range of sources when trying to come up with solutions to a problem. Instead of only looking at things analytically, viewing the situation through an emotional lens as well gives you the opportunity to consider possibilities that you might not otherwise.

Also, if you can create an empathetic, emotional connection with your employees, they will feel more comfortable thinking outside the box and suggesting new ideas. Innovation necessitates the freedom to take chances and experiment. By encouraging this, and fostering a work environment where creativity is welcome and rewarded, your company will be able to create new and exciting solutions to any problems you encounter.

Survive Moments of Crisis

Moments of crisis are practically unavoidable in business. No matter how much you prepare and do everything you can to ensure success, unexpected things still happen and throw a wrench into your plans. The important thing is how you respond when these situations happen.

In these moments, possessing a high level of emotional intelligence can make the difference between simply surviving the crisis, and thriving because of how you responded to it. Turbulent times in a small business can absolutely decimate company culture, morale, and in turn, motivation.

By displaying empathy and emotional intelligence in your leadership during these times, you can help calm others’ fear and keep the your company pointed and moving forward toward your larger goals.

Build Authentic Culture

Culture is built one interaction at a time. If you’re a small business leader, this means you are constantly shaping your company’s culture. Each and every conversation you have has an ancillary impact on that culture, even if you didn’t intend for that to happen or realize that was the case.

Therefore, it’s important that leaders and small business owners have this awareness as they enter crucial conversations on a daily basis. Whether they are talking to someone within or outside their company, the impressions they make will be seen as a reflection of the company’s culture and personality.

This is why it is so crucial for small business owners to possess emotional intelligence, especially when dealing with their own employees. By having the ability to empathize with those impacted by their business decisions, they can better weigh all their options and make decisions based on a wider perspective. Doing things this way helps create a company culture that feels authentic and trustworthy. This will not only make employees more likely to happily stay put at the company for longer, but also feel more motivated to put forth extra effort and care into their work.

Create and Maintain Thriving Relationships

A successful business is suspended by a web of strong relationships with individuals and other businesses. The health of your network is a direct reflection of your ability to connect with others on a both personal and professional level.

By utilizing emotional intelligence in your business dealings with others, you’ll be rich with strong relationships—an invaluable currency in the business world. You’ll then be able to spend this currency in a variety of ways. It will help you close deals because the other person will already know they can rely on you to hold up your end of the bargain. Even when you’re forced to make tough business decisions, it will be easier to do so without burning bridges since others will be able to trust your motivation and reasoning behind the decision.

You will have stronger relationships across the board with your co-workers, regardless of your position in the company compared to them. In turn, not only will your workplace be a more enjoyable environment, but a more productive and motivated one as well. These positive relationships will serve to motivate employees to assist each other, as well as excel in their own work for the benefit of everyone.

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