How old are you? And what is the average age of your small business team members?

This may seem like an odd personal question, but according to a survey by The Hartford, millennials will occupy 75 percent of the workplace by 2025. In other words, chances are that most of you reading this are millennials. You’re tech-savvy, creative, and self-expressive team players, and you’re already ruling the business world. It’s common to have 23-year-old team leaders and 25- to 30-year-old entrepreneurs and small business owners setting the leadership style and determining what’s important in the workplace.

Your small business team is ambitious, mindful, productive and responsible. They don't want to follow the "boss-subordinate" algorithm. As they strive for constant improvement, they need a leader who can motivate them and be a role model for them.

In other words, you should be emotionally intelligent if you want to lead a team and a business to success.


You’ve heard of it, but do you use it?

Emotional intelligence, also known as EQ, is the ability to recognize, evaluate, and control not only your own emotions, but the emotions of others. Despite emotional intelligence being critical to the development of an effective leader, it is still not frequently displayed in the workplace, however. Why? Because being emotional in the workplace has a bad stigma, and most people don’t understand how to use their emotions to their advantage, or even how to become more in tune with their emotions.

Here's what you can do to get the ball rolling and become a strong emotional leader for your team:


Step 1. Practice showing your emotions.

Good and bad leaders alike use their emotions to control their teams. The difference lies in how you harness those emotions. Yelling at team members can instill fear and unease, while motivating and passionate words can turn someone into your greatest asset. Your emotions highlight and turn attention to your words, so be careful how you use them.


Variant 1. "John, you need to finish the report by Friday so I won't have to rewrite everything. I'll penalize you if you fail."

Variant 2. "John, it's only you who can help us today. The manager needs a top-notch report with no weak spots. You are the best analyst here, so I decided to ask you. Save the universe, finish that report by Friday."

Sometimes a few emotional words are enough to make your team member want to complete a task and excel.


Step 2. Use emotional arguments.

Do you want to persuade people? Then forget about arguments. You may justify your point of view, but a person will adhere to their own opinion anyway because it's emotions rather than logic that rule our decisions.

A primary example is multimillion dollar iPhone sales. Despite Apple’s track record of releasing the latest and greatest long after Android phones, their sales far exceed other smart phones. Why? Because customer’s have gained an emotional attachment to the product.

And the same goes for a great leader. If you want your employees, partners, and customers to advocate for you and your business, you need to draw them in emotionally.

The best leaders inspire, teach, and trust others. They also instill a sense of purpose in those around them and drive them to reach outside their comfort zones. All of these traits can help you become a stronger emotional leader for your business.


Step 3. Resonate with others.

Outstanding leaders are resonating leaders. They are people able to take on resonance with others. Taking on resonance means becoming one unit with your team, and inspiring and motivating them.

You've probably heard a business buzzword like "synergy," which means collaborating and coordinating more effectively. Resonance in your small business team is synergy on the emotional level: you need to make them feel inspirited.

Ask yourself:

What do people feel when leaving your office after the talk with you? Are they inspired, motivated, and mirthful? If not – you aren't a good leader.


Step 4. Train your social intelligence.

Social intelligence — or empathy — is your ability to listen and understand others and work in a team. It includes:

Dr. Daniel Goleman describes social intelligence as "the ability to build relationships and navigate social environments successfully." Together with IQ and EQ, it influences your life, allowing to build strong business and personal relationships.

To develop it, you first need to know how your social intelligence currently scores. Take the quiz to find this out. And if it happens that you need to increase it, begin by learning about body language and practicing good eye contact when speaking and listening to your team members.

Then, consider developing your protoconversation skills – the ability to read between the lines, paying attention to gestures, voice intonations, and micro expressions of your interlocutors. And remember to be empathetic. Never treat your small business team members like objects as opposed to human beings.


Step 5. Inspire through vision and mission.

Outstanding leaders understand that team members need to be motivated by more than just a paycheck. They are able to demonstrate how their team’s work connects to a bigger vision and mission.

Practice it by doing the following exercise:

Use the SMART principle to assign a task to a friend, a spouse, a neighbor or a colleague. Say you want them to hand in your watch for repair. Chances are that they will agree, but grudgingly.

You already know that emotional leaders inspire. Use this information (and the following phrases) to make the task more significant:


Step 6. Stop daunting them.

Some of the worst advice you can receive from “leaders” is to use the carrot and stick approach — an idiom meaning that good behavior is induced through a combination of reward and punishment. It doesn't work with people, and it doesn’t work with animals. If you haven't already read Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work by Paul L. Marciano, Ph.D., it’s a great read.

It proves that hair raising tactics don't motivate people to change their behavior, habits, or attitude.

 As a leader, you should really get to know your team members individually and learn how best to motivate and encourage them. You need to create an atmosphere of positive, open and honest communication.

This atmosphere includes unconditional acceptance, honesty, confidentiality, trust, equality, and constructiveness.


Step 7. Start transforming yourself.

Ask yourself what kind of an emotional leader you want to be and decide on the traits you need to develop. Some examples may include:

  1. Emotional rather than rational argumentation
  2. Inspiration through vision and mission
  3. Empathy and sympathy
  4. Ability to resonate with a team
  5. Ability to help them understand the significance of their work
  6. Ability to listen and hear
  7. Flexibility
  8. Coaching and training with care
  9. Motivation
  10. 10.Understanding your emotions

Follow the lead of sportsmen who spend 90 percent of their time training for 10 percent of work, rather than bosses with no training who spend 100 percent of their time working. Set up a 10-week schedule and write down 10 traits to train during this time, practicing one trait per week.

And remember:

Changes happen to those who do, not those who simply read blog posts and promise to apply described tips “one day.”