By Christine Condon
One of the most important qualities an aspiring leader should possess is emotional intelligence.
Take it from Susan Bratton -- a veteran of Wall Street who is the founder and CEO of Meals to Heal, a nutrition platform for cancer patients. In the "Women Who Lead" video series from 92Y and Ellevate Network, she shares savvy leadership and fundraising advice for women.
"What I think is really important for women to realize is that they, or most of them, possess a quality that is really inherent to leadership, and that is emotional intelligence. Women generally come by this naturally and that is one of the most important things to have as part of your personality in leading people."
At the root of emotional intelligence is the ability to connect with people, to pick up on their nonverbal cues, to actively listen to others and to possess self awareness. "If you have emotional intelligence, people will follow you and will aspire to achieve whatever dream it is that you want to achieve," Bratton states. "One thing that differentiated the women from the men in selling on Wall Street is this emotional intelligence -- and it's the ability to read people and to read their emotions and understand what those emotions are telling you."
Bratton worked on Wall Street for 20 years: "A woman in a man's world" as she calls the experience. "I think that experience probably toughened me up a little bit and certainly added to the grit and the perseverance in my personality that I think have been helpful in making Meals to Heal a success."
As an entrepreneur, Bratton has to raise money for her business, and this is where tenacity, smart negotiation skills, and that perseverance come into play. "Don't be afraid to ask for what you want and what you need," says Bratton. "On Wall Street we would say, 'Ask for the order.' Don't be afraid to ask for the order. That's something I remind myself of every day... It's not the most comfortable thing for me to go to somebody and ask for money. But you've got to ask for that money to bring your vision to fruition. It's something I've had to learn."
Don't shy away from asking for the amount of funds necessary for your business; competitors are doing it. Bratton makes the point, "Ask for more than you are probably comfortable asking for. Men will say, 'I'd like $250,000,' when most women will say, 'Let's ask for $25,000 or $50,000.' So, ask for the order."