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Leadership and Emotional Intelligence for Business Owners

Did you know emotional intelligence is one of the most important things you can have as a business leader?

The workplace can be hectic and full of strong emotions at times. If you don't learn how to control those emotions or teach your employees how to manage them, you may have high turnover and decreased productivity. Being the best in the business world these days requires you, as the business owner, to be empathetic to your employees and their communication styles.

How do you take on this kind of emotionally intelligent leadership? Keep reading, and we'll show you.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the way you recognize and manage your emotions and recognize and understand the emotions of others.

In everyday life, this means you are aware that emotions are the driving force behind behaviors. They are also the root of the impressions or impact we make on the people around us. That impact you have can be positive or negative, depending on how you act.

Emotional intelligence, especially in high-stress situations, can help you recognize and manage your emotions, making your interactions with others at work and your personal life more meaningful and positive.

Why is Emotional Intelligence Important?

Did you know that emotions bubble up before thought does? This means when emotions are running high, you can lose proper cognitive function and other interpersonal skills. When this happens, you could say or do something you regret. For example, you may lose your temper in a business meeting or be unable to have a difficult conversation with a loved one without saying something hurtful.

Identifying how you feel before you respond or speak can help your relationships with others and yourself more than you can imagine.

Think back to a tense conversation you've had where you wished you could be more emotionally intelligent. Would the outcome be different? Would feelings have been hurt? Would the discussion have been more productive? Now you can start to understand why emotional intelligence is essential.

How Can Business Owners Benefit from using Emotional Intelligence?

As a small business owner, emotional intelligence can be even more critical. You may have fewer people on your staff, but that requires you to have more honest and open discussions with them.

Small business leadership requires you to have a vision, set clear goals, and communicate consistently with your employees. Communication does not mean you are the one talking all the time either. Some people forget listening and understanding are essential too.

Emotional intelligence can help you think before you act or speak. If you need to have difficult conversations where emotions are high, people are more likely to respond in a positive way if you can keep a level head. It can also help you understand the best ways your employees communicate, which can ease confusion in the long run. For example, some employees may do better with written instructions or videos instead of direct conversation.

Take the time to understand and hear your employees through emotional intelligence, and you will know them on a different level. If you can communicate your company's goals more effectively and listen with intention, you will have employees who feel valued. Valued employees are more engaged and will help you achieve whatever goals you are striving for.

How Can You Become More Emotionally Intelligent?

Now that we've outlined the reasons emotional intelligence can help you as a business owner, you may be wondering how you can become more emotionally intelligent in your everyday life. The good news is, you can become better at emotional intelligence if you work at it.

To start, think about how you see the world. Do you tend to have a glass half full mindset of a glass half empty mindset? If you are a glass-half-empty kind of person, that's okay! You can flip the switch and start to grow a more positive attitude every day. Think about all the good things that could happen instead of the bad. Pursue positive things and happiness, and you may notice a fundamental change in the way you approach projects at work and the people in your life.

In the workplace, and in general, it can be hard to be vulnerable. Instead of getting defensive when you make a mistake or have an unkind reaction to someone, take a step back and think about apologizing or taking responsibility instead. Try to accept that you are not perfect, and you will make mistakes. When you come to this realization, you'll be more mindful and receptive if people offer you criticism.

Using Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Leadership for business owners is about more than doing the paperwork and running the business behind the scenes. You can be intelligent, and capable but if you don't know how to deal with people, your business could very well sink before it has much time to flourish.

As defined by Daniel Goleman, there are four different aspects to emotional intelligence, who brought emotional intelligence into the forefront. He labeled them as self-awareness, self-control, social awareness, and relationship management. Each of these "quadrants" can help you figure out what to do in a crisis, but also in your everyday life as well.


This is when you can be in control of your thoughts and feelings. Having self-awareness provides you with the context you need to better deal with people and situations that could be considered high-stress. Suppose you can recognize emotions like anger or fear before you react impulsively. In that case, you as a business owner can instead provide valuable insights and figure out constructive ways to deal with a problem.

Self-awareness also opens the door for you to take responsibility for your mistakes. You are accountable for your work, and if you have made a mistake, people will respect you more for owning up to it.


Have you ever gotten mad or stressed and felt like you were on auto-pilot? According to Daniel Goleman, this is something called an "amygdala hijack." The amygdala hijack is when your brain goes into its fight or flight response, and you have very little control over your words and actions. This is because the brain reacts to whatever the stressful situation is like it's a threat, turning off the rational part of your brain.

Examples of high-stress situations that might trigger this can include an upsetting email, a meeting going poorly, being yelled at by another employee, and more.

The good news is with self-control, you can become more resilient, see the signs of the hijack and avoid them. You can teach your brain to use the rational part of itself instead of the amygdala.

Social Awareness

Social awareness is your ability to see and read other people. When in the workplace, you want to sense others' emotions and understand their perspective. It's much easier to empathize with an employee if you make an effort to understand them.

You want to be able to respond appropriately to all types of social situations. Understand when someone requires encouragement or reprimand. You may need to work on your active listening skills and determine when it's more appropriate to listen instead of speak yourself.

Relationship Management

No one likes dealing with conflict, but this section of the emotional intelligence quadrant delves into that. Can you deal with conflict effectively? What does conflict resolution look like to you and your company? How do you motivate your employees?

To foster relationships and a working environment that thrives, you as a leader need to understand how to inspire and resolve disagreements that happen when you are in the office. Learn from your employees, and figure out how to motivate them each on an individual level.

How Will You Use Emotional Intelligence in Your Business?

As you can probably now see, emotional intelligence can help your business and employees grow. Developing a solid sense of EI can increase motivation and empathy, fostering better collaborative conversations and a more productive workplace. This type of skill can be used in all aspects of life; remember to think positively, take responsibility, and be accountable can change your life and the lives of those around you.  

This article may help you gain some insight into emotional intelligence in the workplace, but if you also need insights into digital marketing, we can do that too! Contact us today! Let's starts the conversation about the impact we can have on your business. We want to increase traffic to your website and get you the results you deserve. We promise we'll put our active listening ears on!

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Nik Paprocki
Head Of Growth
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