Entrepreneurs play a key role in realizing the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This action plan, adopted by all UN member countries, including Canada, was created to address today’s “most pressing social, economic and environmental challenges”.
While governments play a central role in achieving these goals, nonprofit and for-profit organizations can accelerate this progress through innovation. This is where entrepreneurs come in – anyone who starts or owns a business.
Canada has one of the highest levels of entrepreneurial activity among developed countries and was recently ranked as one of the top countries in the world for social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurship focuses on tackling social issues such as poverty, illiteracy and discrimination.
To maintain its position as an entrepreneurial nation, Canada must continue to foster innovation. Our current research on how emotional intelligence affects entrepreneurship at a societal level can help Canada and other countries achieve this.
About the study
Using data on entrepreneurial activity from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor in 24 countries, our study found that entrepreneurship thrives when individuals in society experience higher levels of well-being, adaptability, self-control and sociability.
These are characteristics of societal emotional intelligence – a measure of a given society’s collective emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability of an individual to recognize and understand their own emotions as well as the emotions of others and to use this knowledge to make decisions.
On a societal level, emotional intelligence plays a crucial role in overcoming challenges at different stages of the entrepreneurial process, such as generating ideas, planning the start-up and growing a business.
However, the degree to which each trait of emotional intelligence influences entrepreneurship depends on the type of entrepreneurship.
Promotion of commercial entrepreneurship
Our research found that three characteristics of societal emotional intelligence are more likely to foster commercial entrepreneurship: hedonic well-being, adaptability, and self-control. Commercial entrepreneurship leads to innovations that contribute to a country’s economic growth through the creation of wealth.
1. Hedonic Wellbeing
Hedonic well-being is one of two types of perceived well-being. It refers to a person’s perception of their own life satisfaction, happiness, optimism, and self-esteem.
Hedonic wellbeing can help individuals navigate challenging situations that arise at work as entrepreneurs by giving them a sense of control over their situation.
Individuals with high levels of hedonic well-being are more likely to exhibit traits associated with successful commercial entrepreneurs.
Individuals with a high level of adaptability are receptive to new information, willing to let go of preconceived notions and adapting to new or challenging situations.
An individual’s ability to adapt to adversity sets them apart. People who are very successful often have a higher level of adaptability.
In the context of commercial entrepreneurship, a high level of adaptability enables entrepreneurs to manage uncertainty and adapt to changes in the business environment.
3. Self Control
Self-control is a mental process that helps individuals align their thoughts and behaviors with their goals, especially during difficult times.
Self-control is beneficial for business entrepreneurs as it encourages them to be aware of the strategies needed to keep their goals in tune with the ever-changing business environment.
Because self-regulation is valuable in conducting commercial enterprise, societies in which there are more individuals with higher levels of self-regulation are more likely to encourage commercial entrepreneurship.
Promotion of social entrepreneurship
Our research found that two characteristics of societal emotional intelligence are more likely to promote social entrepreneurship: eudaimonic well-being and sociability. As already mentioned, social entrepreneurship leads to innovations that address social problems.
1. Eudaimonic well-being
Eudaimonic well-being relates to an individual’s perceived autonomy, self-acceptance, purposefulness, and ability to deal with their environment.
The traits associated with eudaimonic well-being motivate individuals to make greater contributions to the well-being of others through social entrepreneurship.
While traits of eudaimonic well-being are essential to both types of entrepreneurship, societies with higher levels of eudaimonic well-being tend to foster environments that are more conducive to social entrepreneurship.
The American Psychological Association defines sociability as the tendency to “seek companionship, form interpersonal relationships, and participate in social activities.”
Sociability has three facets: social awareness, emotional management, and assertiveness. It plays a more prominent role in social entrepreneurship, so societies with larger numbers of individuals with this trait are more likely to encourage social entrepreneurship.
Promotion of emotional intelligence
Entrepreneurship in Canada, both commercial and social, needs to thrive to help the country achieve its Sustainable Development Goals. For this to happen, Canada should implement strategies to build emotional intelligence in its entrepreneurs.
One way Canada could achieve this is by investing in programs to monitor, assess and diagnose opportunities to improve the emotional intelligence of entrepreneurs.
Since emotional intelligence can be developed through training, companies and innovation hubs should also develop emotional skills in their entrepreneurs.
Finally, Canada should adopt a curriculum that focuses on developing emotional intelligence in students to shape their entrepreneurial behavior. By equipping students with emotional intelligence skills, Canada will create a generation of entrepreneurs ready to create wealth, address social challenges and create positive change.
This article has been republished by The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.