Developing People Skills Is a Brilliant Career Move

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Daniel Goleman popularized the term "emotional intelligence," and continues to be a pioneer in this field. In his latest book, Social Intelligence, Goleman makes the case that social competence distinguishes outstanding leaders. Entrepreneurs who are effective in relationships and are able to connect with others in many forms, can become stars in their industry.

Think about it. Some of you became an entrepreneur in the first place to escape a "bad boss." Remember the guy who demeaned you in front of your peers rather than pull you aside to discuss a problem? How about the woman who sent a one-line email telling you that the project you spent weeks on sucked, but did not provide any meaningful feedback? Remembering those painful experiences may motivate you to become socially competent. It's key to unlocking your success in business.  The key benefits of developing your social skills include:

1. Influence.

Smart entrepreneurs would rather have more influence than just about anything else. With influence you can compel people to get things done. You can get capital to fund your next venture. You can forge partnerships to gain more market share.

There's a strong correlation between your level of social competence and the amount of influence you have over your team or in the marketplace. If you're a poor communicator, are known for destroying relationships and fail to understand that not everyone thinks and perceives the world the way you do, then you'll have limited influence. On the other hand, if you build people up, seek to understand others and provide value, you'll gain more influence. Access to capital held by those who respect you and view you as a person of influence becomes that much easier.

Related: Why You Need Emotional Intelligence to Succeed in Business

2. Trust.

Trust is a great currency, and perhaps the greatest in business. Your customers, clients and your market is looking for a trusted advisor. if you earn their trust, you'll command loyalty. A loyal customer base will help you sustain and grow your business. It takes a high degree of social intelligence to develop trust with individuals and groups. The magic happens when you connect with others the right way. Have you mastered the art of listening? Do you express empathy?

The opposite is true. If you don't engender trust from your team, as well as customers and clients, your business will suffer. You may eventually plateau or lose market share over time. Worse yet, you may lose excellent team members to your competitors who take proactive measures to earn their trust.

Related: Gaining Customers' Trust Can Be Your Checkmate

3. Productivity.

Leaders will poor social skills limit productivity in teams. Any work that gets done in those situations is solely based on employees who fear that they may lose their jobs or promotions if they don't perform. Some companies operate this way and are satisfied with the productivity they can squeeze out of teams who don't trust leadership. Entrepreneurs who are passionate and want to grow their people and their business are not satisfied with mediocre performance. A culture that does not promote trust zaps the life out of teams. If you want more productivity, inspire your team by building trust.

Related: These 4 Phrases Are Sure Signs Your Team Isn't at Peak Productivity

4. Effectiveness in leading change.

Entrepreneurs must be able to adapt to change in a timely manner. Social competence includes developing change management skills. You've heard the stories of companies that  folded as a result of failure to manage change effectively. They weren't able to change course and respond both within their organizations and in the marketplace.

Some companies could not manage change well because of their size. However, that's not the full story. Some leaders within those companies were not effective in leading change.

Some entrepreneurs avoid, or at least delay, making changes because they don't have the social skills to cope. When you develop those skills, you will have confidence to face those moments and make the changes necessary. Leading change effectively is a competitive advantage that makes a difference in sales, innovation, marketing and growth.

The best way to develop social competencies is to get training for yourself and your team, and then practice those skills daily. Determine how you'll measure success and assess your company in each area throughout the year.

Related: Turns Out, Humility Offers a Competitive Advantage