One of the standout presentations of the 2023 Conscious Entrepreneur Summit was by Liz Fosslien, an illustrator and expert on the topic of emotions at work. Her talk, titled “How to Become an Emotionally Fluent Leader,” was both highly personal and incredibly relevant to us entrepreneurs. Here are my key takeaways from her session.
The Importance of Emotional Fluency for Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurship is not just about business acumen; it’s about leading people. And leading people effectively requires emotional fluency. Liz emphasized that emotional expression builds trust, and as a leader, your mood has an outsized impact on others. Whether you’re a CEO or a startup founder, your emotional state can either inspire your team or create a toxic work environment.
The Three Pillars of Emotional Fluency
- Selective Vulnerability: Liz introduced the concept of “selective vulnerability,” which is about being open in a way that doesn’t destabilize the team. It’s about walking the line between sharing, which builds trust, and oversharing, which can destroy it. The formula is simple: A moment of openness + a path forward = selective vulnerability.
- Reading the Room: The best leaders are those who can adapt their agenda based on the emotional climate of a meeting or conversation. If your team is distracted or disengaged, it might be more productive to address the elephant in the room rather than sticking to your planned agenda.
- Emotional Proofreading: Before sending out any communication, especially emails, do an emotional proofread. Make sure your message will not cause unnecessary stress or misunderstandings. Liz shared a personal example of how a poorly worded email from her boss led her to believe she was about to be fired, causing unnecessary anxiety.
The “It’s Okay To” List
One of the most practical tools Liz shared was the “It’s Okay To” list. This list serves as a guide for what behaviors and emotions are acceptable within a team or organization. For example, “It’s okay to say no when you’re too busy,” or “It’s okay to ask what an acronym means.” This list can be a powerful tool for setting the emotional tone of your workplace and making everyone feel included and valued.
Why This Matters for Entrepreneurs
As entrepreneurs, we often find ourselves in emotionally charged situations. Whether it’s laying off employees, navigating a crisis, or celebrating a win, how we handle these situations emotionally can make or break our leadership. Liz’s insights provide a roadmap for becoming an emotionally fluent leader, which is essential for any entrepreneur who wants to build a successful, conscious business.
Liz Fosslien’s talk was a masterclass in emotional intelligence for leaders. It’s not just about what you say or do; it’s about how you make people feel. And in the world of entrepreneurship, where the stakes are high, and the emotional rollercoaster is a given, becoming an emotionally fluent leader is not just a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have.
Thank you, Liz, for sharing your wisdom and giving us the tools to become better leaders and better human beings. And thank you to everyone who made The Conscious Entrepreneur Summit a success. See you next year!
If you missed Liz’s talk or any other sessions, stay tuned for video recordings and more post-event content. Until then, keep leading consciously!