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This is part 2 of my series on “How to Grow Your Team’s Emotional Intelligence (EQ).” Read part 1 on “How Failure to Communicate Almost Killed My Startup” here.
Every startup founder and team leader should begin investing in their emotional intelligence (EQ) today. Why? If the goal of your company is to grow—in size and impact–then the biggest challenge you will face is managing an increasing large and complicated team <link to part 1>.
Your ability, to make fast decisions, hire and fire the right managers, and put the right employees on the right teams will determine how fast your business grows. Simply put, your startup is rate limited by your development as a leader.
EQ—defined as one’s ability to understand and manage their own emotions as well as recognize and influence the emotions of others—is the set of skills never taught in school, but which are instrumental to running a startup at scale.
With this in mind, here are a number of tactics that the top founders use to improve their EQ:
“Your ability, to make fast decisions, hire and fire the right managers, and put the right employees on the right teams will determine how fast your business grows” – Nathan Parcells
1. Have difficult conversations more often.
One of the best ways to improve your EQ is to reduce the timeline from when you think you need to have a conversation (with a co-founder, investor, or employee) to when you do it. Whether this is about clarifying someone’s role, admitting a mistake, negotiating investor terms or something else—having hard conversations more often will accelerate your communication skills.
2. Find a coach.
When my co-founder and I raised our Series A, one of our investors had a request—he wanted us to work with his preferred executive coach. He was an investor in many early stage companies and he knew the road ahead of us, so he was protecting his investment by having us expand our EQ with a trained professional.
3. Find mentors.
Is there one person in your life who everyone talks to when they are having an issue? How does this person react to problems when they come up? How do they give advice? Connect with this person and ask them what strategies they use or what their mental frame of mind is when they are having hard conversations.
You can’t make smart decisions when you are emotionally charged—whether by stress, frustration or even, over-excitement. Meditation has become a common practice amongst founders and CEOs for good reason–a proper meditation practice (one with a focus and goal) can help you make decisions with the right headspace.
5. Solicit feedback.
Ask trusted friends and advisors about what they perceive as your strengths and weaknesses (in particular around your communication style and how you manage your emotions). People who have worked with you in a variety of situations will have ample thoughts on you and your emotional resilience. Bringing light to these issues will make you a more complete leader.
Just like working out at the gym, it takes time and effort to develop EQ. But, in the end, it’s worth it. Your teammates, investors, and company all depend on it.
“Just like working out at the gym, it takes time and effort to develop EQ. But, in the end, it’s worth it.” – Nathan Parcells