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Susan Liddy, M.A., PCC, CPCC

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Women and Emotional Intelligence: The New Paradigm in Business

Posted: 02/13/2012 11:35 am

At some point in your life, you've probably met the type. You know, the woman who always knows exactly the right thing to say; keeps her cool in tough situations; she's a great listener, excellent problem solver -- even under extreme stress -- she takes criticism well and uses it to effectively improve herself; she exudes confidence and has a strong sense of what others are thinking and feeling to boot.

It seems only natural that this sort of woman tends to rise to high positions in the workplace, or ultimately runs her own successful company.

So, you may ask, "What is this je ne sais quoi she possesses? And how do I get some of that?"

It's called Emotional Intelligence (EI) and unfortunately, it's not quite as simple as "I'll have what she's having." However, it is easy to see that women are born with an innate sense of EI. Think nurturing, care giving, teaching, empathy and intuition. These emotional skills can be cultivated into extraordinary success in the business world -- the kind of success that not only creates a financial impact, but also changes the world into a better place.

This seemingly elusive characteristic is looking pretty good for the future of the entrepreneurial landscape as more women learn how to use EI not just as the stereotypical "women's intuition" but also in the fine art of navigating the business landscape.

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, at the sold-out Peace Summit in Vancouver made the astonishing proclamation that "The world will be saved by the western woman." He may just be right.

Companies founded by women are popping up and succeeding. A new report by American Express Open found that between 1997 and 2011, the number of women-owned businesses increased by 50 percent nationwide, outpacing the overall increase of all new businesses. Not only are they figuring out how to work at home and provide for the family financially, but also emotionally.

Today, many companies are beginning to recognize the advantages of high Emotional Intelligence when it comes to positions like sales, teams, and leadership and are even pulling in coaches to teach EI to their people.

So what exactly is Emotional Intelligence? And why is it so important in business?

In their 1990 article "Emotional Intelligence," Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer, the leading researchers on emotional intelligence, defined EI as, "the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions."

Emotional Intelligence is the driving force behind:

• Decision making
• Hiring good people
• More centered individuals who are in turn more productive
• Conflict management
• Relationship building
• Motivation and perseverance
• Guiding principles for the business' mission and vision

Up until the last 50 years or so, the primary role of a woman has been as caregiver to the family. Now more women are feeling the calling to not only nurture their families -- but to nurture the world -- we are seeing astonishing rates of women rising to roles of leadership. Along with that rise is an increasing need to learn how to develop EI skills for business.

As an EI coach for female entrepreneurs, I have developed a set of EI criteria specific to them and designed to work as an evolving scale as women work their way through each level of EI:

  1. Emotional Awareness (the ability to be mindful, aware of your emotional states, to name your emotions and base your emotional responses upon your personal values.)
  2. Emotional Management (the ability to be flexible and adaptable to change, in control of your self, motivated and confident.)
  3. Emotional Relating (the ability to deeply connect with others, manage interpersonal conflicts, be assertive in your relationships and socially adept.)
  4. Emotional Enlightenment (the ability to process through your emotional experiences, "feel to heal," learn from mistakes, have a high self esteem and a positive mindset.)

So, how do you get some of that je ne sais quoi? Begin with practicing Emotional Awareness. Learn to tune in more to what you're feeling and how you respond to situations. Make a list of your personal values and then slow down enough in each moment to consciously choose your emotional reactions to things.

Take this awareness into how you do business, and you'll soon begin to notice changes in yourself and how you react to and handle different situations. At first you may simply be a silent observer. Then, with practice, you will graduate into and through each of the levels of EI to that ultimate crescendo of Emotional Enlightenment.

Armed with enormous emotional strength and tightly honed EI skills, women can, and will, shift the paradigm in the business and entrepreneurial world like never before.

With a little self-exploration and daily "emotional workouts," we can have what she's having.

 

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