Our latest guest blog is by Clare McNamara, who runs Move Ahead which coaches business leaders to make step changes to their performance and to achieve balance across their professional and working lives. Her clients include senior people in multinational corporations and smaller, niche, high-growth business. For this article, she has been focusing in on the advantages women can bring to business growth! As you might imagine, it’s a subject very close to Dangerous marketing’s heart!
Good news for women business owners – we really are better equipped to grow our businesses!
When it comes to business growth, most people would agree that we all need to do whatever we can to successfully grow our companies.
And the truly great news for women is that they usually exhibit a key strength that is most likely to fuel business growth over the long-term – Empathy.
Two quick facts:
- Research shows that the higher the level of Emotional Intelligence1 in a business, the healthier the bottom line. Empathy, the foundation of Emotional Intelligence, is key to achieving results in a number of areas including customer satisfaction, better recruitment, higher sales, more repeat business and increased productivity. (*see below for examples including L’Oreal and New Zealand Telecom).
- Women usually have greater emotional intelligence than men. This seems to be because we have had more practice at some interpersonal skills than men, at least in cultures like the UK and the US where girls are brought up to be more attuned to feelings and their nuances than are boys.
So, how can we maximise our power to use Empathy and target growth?
I am working with a number of high-performing business leaders to help them realise and enhance their ability to empathise with and influence stakeholders. Although the media regularly cover many angles of business – from consumer confidence, financial strategies and marketing to difficulties in accessing lending – what is rarely mentioned is Emotional Intelligence – a key component of which is Empathy.
In my view this is a glaring omission. People with high emotional intelligence tend to be more successful in life than those with lower levels, even if their classic IQ (e.g. logical reasoning, math skills, spatial skills, understanding analogies, verbal skills etc) is average.
As part of my coaching work, I have developed a focus on Emotional Intelligence, and works with my clients to encourage their greater uptake of the benefits it offers:
My “at a glance” guide of how to build your Empathy and use Emotional Intelligence to your advantage
- Acknowledge that you may have something to learn and that you personally may need to alter your thinking. If you believe you already know all there is to know about human psychology and business growth, don’t bother reading on. For this to work you have to believe in the capacity to change and that you are part of the solution.
- Get a feel for how your business measures up. There are plenty of free resources on the internet to get you started. Contact me for further information.
- Decide where you are strong and make a plan to use such strengths to even greater effect.
- Assess where you may have limitations. In most cases just being aware of them and the impact they have on others will suffice. It is almost always more efficient to build on what’s going well first.
- Ideally, get yourself an experienced Business Coach who will work with you on your Emotional Intelligence to ensure you make the necessary changes. In so doing you will drill down and really get to know who you are, who your people are and understand what you can practically do to better influence your people and your customers.
Which of your Emotional Intelligence strengths could you develop further? How could you use empathy to make your relationships inside and outside the business really work for you? How can you take your business from good to great?
If you can see the practical benefits of working on EI but need someone to get you started, Clare is the person to contact. She is known for her ability to combine empathy and challenge to get your business where you need it to go. Her preference is to work with proactive people who see problems as opportunities to exploit, not roadblocks that prevent action. You can contact her by leaving a comment on this blog article or go to her website www.moveahead.co.uk
*The examples mentioned earlier: at L’Oreal, sales people selected on the basis of certain emotional competencies significantly outsold those selected using the company’s old selection procedure and there was 63% less staff turnover during the first year2; New Zealand Telecom categorized 70 senior leaders into high and low performance groups based on established leadership performance indicators: 48% of what differentiated the high and low performing leaders could be attributed to EI attributes – in other words, almost one-half of the skill set required for successful execution of this organization’s leadership competencies is comprised of emotional and social skills.3
1There are many definitions but I like Daniel Goleman’s 5 domains: Self- Awareness – knowing your emotions; Self-regulation – managing your own emotions; Motivation – motivating yourself to reach goals; Empathy – recognising and understanding other people’s emotions; Social Skills – inducing desirable responses in others (for further information see http://danielgoleman.info/)
2Spencer & Spencer, 1993