This series covers the 12 Habits of Effective Entrepreneurs. Click here to view previous articles.
Habit #11 – Understanding
Entrepreneurs tend to be project-focused and idea-driven. They are well acquainted with the hustle it takes to build a business. They work hard, and with these tools, they tend to find a good level of initial success.
But when it comes to building a team to grow beyond a certain level, it’s a whole new ballgame.
Whereas the first phase of business tends to be based on intelligent ideas and hard work, this next phase requires emotional intelligence (known as EQ). And this may not come naturally to a project-focused, driven leader.
The good news is that EQ is a learnable skill.
What is EQ?
EQ is having the ability to understand your team members and to develop solid working relationships. A lack of EQ can be evidenced by employee disengagement and high turnover rates. It can also be reflected in less-than-optimal productivity.
Why do you need EQ?
EQ is the tool of empathy and relatability. It helps you see and understand your team members as the individuals they are, not as mere cogs in a wheel. Generally, people come to work each day with a desire to be part of a team, make a difference, and work with purpose. EQ helps you support them in this endeavor. It creates connection, and this is a critical human need.
How can you develop EQ?
Since EQ is rooted in understanding, you can make it a practice to apply the concept of understanding on a regular basis until it becomes a habit.
“Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood” is Habit 5 of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
How can you practice the habit of understanding?
Understand Your People
The Maxwell DISC Assessment is a great way learn to understand your people – to learn who they innately are and what is important to them. You will learn to value their unique strengths and understand their inherent weaknesses, which leads to respect and, where necessary, forgiveness.
Understand Their Potential
Good leaders see the potential in each person on their team, even when the team member may not see it. They will nudge an employee to the edge of their comfort zone when a challenge is needed; and they will take the time to encourage an employee when they are discouraged. They will help the employee grow to a point they would not have reached on their own.
Understand the Problems
Communication is key to building a solid working relationship with your team. Most leaders are adept at the speaking side of communication; but many tend to overlook the importance of listening. Great leaders listen to their people across the business. They realize those on the front lines can identify issues before they become crises and offer suggestions before they become complaints.
They also understand that their employees may occasionally experience problems in other areas of their life besides work. While the work must continue to be completed, there are things leaders can do to help support employees in the area of work-life balance. Flexibility of schedule, encouraging employees to use their vacation days, and setting expectations and boundaries show a level of understanding that employees appreciate.
Understand the Process
A leader with high EQ will understand that not everyone thinks and works the same way when pursuing the same end goal. They will empower their employees to make decisions within their roles that allow them to own and optimize processes. They will respect that, when given a chance to operate true to their strengths, an employee will be highly productive and efficient.
Understand the Partnership
Effective leaders see their team members as partners, each bringing a unique set of skills and life experiences to the table in service to the company. As such, there is respect across the team for each person on the team, and it starts with the leader understanding the concept of partnership.
John Maxwell says it well: “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Seeking first to understand says that you care.
Ask yourself on a regular basis:
Am I seeking to understand my people and setting them up for success?
Do I understand their potential, providing both challenge and encouragement?
Am I listening to understand the problems of my people?
Am I empowering my team members to do their best work in their own way wherever possible?
Do I value my team members as partners?
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer, and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, and using the Maxwell Method, Deb helps leaders and teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results