People Skills: Required for Growth.
Now lots of you in the startup world have a high IQ. And yes. Being really smart helps a lot, especially when you’re starting a business. IQ is not enough though, to grow a business. What’s essential for growing a business is emotional intelligence. Growth requires managing relationships – Board, investors, team. It requires handling conflict, sometimes nasty ones. It requires hiring, firing and motivating employees. It requires inspiring employees, and customers alike. It requires people skills.
I work primarily with brilliant scientists and technologists. They are super knowledgeable about coding or molecules but know virtually nothing about team building or giving feedback. They look stunned when they realize they are the one who has to deliver bad news or mediate a conflict among founders or that they are the inspiration at an all company meeting. With wide eyes, they say “but I never learned how to do this”. And it’s true.
Most people only have their family experience to draw from. And although a business is like a family especially in startup mode, many of us didn’t have such a functional upbringing that we want to replicate that in a business. And even if you were one of the lucky ones who developed skillful communication in their original family, there are power differentials in family dynamics that are unhealthy when brought into the workplace.
Think of the trend to hire “adult supervision”. Right there, a family dynamic is at play and it’s not helpful for company growth. Adult supervision isn’t needed. Everyone is an adult. You might need more seasoned and experienced leaders or an expert in a specific area. Or even someone with high emotional intelligence. But they are not there to supervise children.
So instead of bringing your family learned approach into your business by default, develop your people skills as much as you would any other skill. You’ll be grateful later.
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