What can women learn from challenges to Elizabeth Warren’s “likability?”

Published on January 22, 2019

Senator Elizabeth Warren announced that she was exploring a 2020 presidential bid. Then critics immediately questioned whether Elizabeth was “likable” enough.

Unfortunately, “likability” tests arise whenever women are up for leadership roles; more than their male colleagues are. Even more recently, Hillary Clinton addressed this issue stating, “I know many of you can attest as to how smart, determined, effective, and dare I say, likable you all are,” as she weighed in on the “likability” issue that women leaders face, in politics and especially in business.

Setting up and running a successful business (as a woman) is not easy. But whatever challenges we face, women might be more at an advantage as there is one critical skill that is necessary for leaders. And that is Emotional Intelligence (aka, emotional quotient or EQ).

Emotional intelligence requires self-awareness, empathy, and social skill and many studies seem to show that women tend to have an edge over men when it comes to these basic skills. (Rumor has it that Gary Vee is documenting this “edge.”)

Without a doubt, more and more companies are starting to recognize the advantages of high EQ when it comes to positions like sales, teams, and leadership.

If you want to be competent in the future, it is not only your education, business skills, or expertise that makes you valuable as a leader. What you’ll also need to develop are soft-skills, such as empathy, ability to work with others, and integrity. Emotional Intelligence could be one of the most valuable skills one could have in the future because people with good emotional skills create positive working atmospheres and partnerships and studies show that a that positive environment can boost workplace creativity and productivity.

If you intend to become a leader you must be able to get things done and to “get things done” sometimes requires help from other people.

From getting a new job, getting an investor, an invitation, a project completed at work — you’ll need EQ. You’ll need to be able to read and understand, control thoughts, emotions, and actions. EQ combined with the ability to collaborate, motivate, and communicate with other people is the key to building trust in others and that is how you obtain success in life.  People who self-aware don’t tend to micro-manage others. They are good listener and don’t always place the blame on others.

Many “less-educated” and “self-made” people do far better in life than you might expect despite the fact that their traditional measures of intelligence (aka “IQ”) might average or even below average.

How so? These people can arouse confidence in others, and they can get others to agree with them. They can sell a good idea and get people to support them. Therefore, is no correlation between how smart people are and how successful they can become. It is in one’s ability to connect with others. People who focus significant efforts on their “social investments in and for others”  — in addition to their main activities — seem to be both more successful in their chosen work and more fulfilled in their lives. These people have mastered the ability to connect with others.

Those with a healthy EQ tend to embrace and welcome changes and continuously develop themselves.

There is no finish line. It is important to note, that working to enhance one’s EQ is a lifelong process without a finish line. All of the people that you will encounter during your career are as individual as you are. As a result, you’ll be working with a variety of personalities. One must prepare themselves for a lifelong marathon, where you are developing your social skills and attitude towards other people.

In many organizations – even if you are a freelancer you have to work in teams. There is still much ignorance on how to attract, retain, and develop employees of different generations, races, educational backgrounds, and such. People tend to employ people they like and talents they understand. Diversity and generational understanding are crucial to innovation. It may not make one’s life easy or comfortable, but it is necessary for growth, and spending time with people you don’t look or feel like is the best personal development path in the world and will place enormous demands on your overall EQ.

Key to success is openness, trust, confidentiality, and honest feedback (nonjudgmental) from people who care. As Lewis Howe’s or perhaps Lisa Wang, too, might say:

“Don’t let the people with cheap seats have an expensive opinion of you.”

People often tell you what you want to know. Real friends are the ones who tell you what you need to know. Once they do, you have to embrace it. Feedback is an essential component of change. You have blind spots. And if “you’ve got broccoli in your teeth…” you’ll need people to tell you that, because you can’t see it.

But for the Elizabeth Warrens in us we don’t need to pass any test but our own. That emotional intelligence begins with ourselves.

Soulaima Gourani is a Columnist at Grit Daily. As a Danish-Moroccan CEO and corporate advisor, Gourani's writing focuses on women in entrepreneurship.

Read more

More GD News