People don’t remember what you do as much as how you make them feel, and everyone will remember how businesses and their owners responded to COVID-19.
That is some serious pressure, yes. It’s also empowering and rewarding. You are the one people rely on to get them through. Your employees, customers, vendors, suppliers, and family members all count on you. As much as your business needs you to be courageous, remember that your people need you to be caring.
Emotional Intelligence and Intellectual Agility
Emotional intelligence goes hand in hand with intellectual agility, yet the two are very different. Intellectual agility is an openness to new ideas and an ability to shift thoughts, adjust focus, and develop new solutions. It is cerebral. Emotional intelligence, meanwhile, is active consciousness in recognizing and managing emotions, both your own and those around you. Leaders “read the room” and are aware that each and every person in it is experiencing many emotions to varying degrees all at the same time. Emotionally intelligent people “get it,” and that’s more important now than ever.
What does this have to do with owning a business? Everything! Here are two simple steps you can take to put your emotional intelligence to work right now:
Step 1: Awareness
Pay attention to your spidey-sense, the gut instinct telling you what is going on around you. This is an extremely emotional time for everyone and most of us are having a hard time filling our batteries. We just can’t do the things that help us maintain balance and happiness in our lives.
If someone seems upset, they probably are. If they seem drained, they probably are. If they seem anxious, they probably are. Emotional intelligence, as it applies to you and your business, starts with simply knowing yourself and your team members. It takes a bit of mindfulness along with genuine compassion and concern.
All of us react differently based upon the personal stress we feel. Whether the stress comes from work, home, health, politics, or, more realistically, a combination of all the above, your employees will respond in their own unique ways. Be aware, be patient, be sensitive, and be smart. Most owners have control issues and when things are out of control, our emotions become elevated as well.
Step 2: Action
Bring your awareness into action by communicating your understanding of emotions and connecting them to the decisions you make about your company. Be thoughtful in the words you choose, the assumptions you make, and the tone you take. Successful post-pandemic leaders will focus first and foremost on keeping their people happy, healthy, and connected.
Everyone knows that tasks still need to be done, work has to get billed, rent has to be paid, and payroll is due on Friday. Your actions around executing when emotional anxiety is high will show your leadership prowess. Your employees are watching those actions and deciding if they want to continue following you. They may not be willing to leave right now, but could be making a plan to leave later.
Emotional intelligence is a virtual happy hour after another long week of everyone being apart. It’s investing in your company to create energy. It’s conducting business tactfully, knowing things are not normal but that you must move forward.
Being a Leader is Lonely Right Now
As much as everyone is stepping up in their own way, you know it all comes down to you. Many of the decisions you are making right now have little to do with day-to-day operations and everything to do with managing feelings—yours, your family’s, your clients’, customers’, service providers’, vendors’, and on and on. Your own emotions run even higher when your tank is on empty, yet you have to keep running. But you are not alone.
Surround yourself with emotionally intelligent and intellectually agile people; we practice both daily. We know where you are, we feel what you feel, and we want to help.