The competency of social responsibility asks if there is anything emotionally holding you back from serving others. Social responsibility is a desire, an ability, and a volition. When I bring this topic up with clients the response I usually get is that I am giving them a “guilt trip."
Is it healthy to be the focus of your own life and the center of your universe? My guess is that none of us want to feel this way. However, the busier we become, the more self-absorbed we seem to get and the flow of our leadership lives suffers.
My point here is not to make you feel bad about your level of social responsibility, but rather to get you thinking about how are you balancing your selfish ambition. Most of us as leaders are trying to find a flow between work, family, recreation, and faith. Where does service fit in for you? If you dedicate too much to any one of these areas, the flow becomes restricted in other places.
Will you take action as a leader even though you might not benefit personally? Do you have a sense of accepting others and using your talents as a leader for the good of society and not only yourself? I don’t know how that hits you, but it actually stings a little for me. Of course, we have the skill. Yes, most of us in our hearts want to. The question is, what is holding us back from acting?
Because we are not the center of the universe, competencies such as social responsibility are vital in any model for leadership. If you read this blog on any regular basis you know that one of the best leadership models, uses emotional intelligence.
One such model for emotional intelligence that incorporates this idea of social responsibility is the EQ-i 2.0 by Reuven Bar-On. According to the EQ-i 2.0, emotional intelligence is defined in the user’s manual as, “a set of emotional and social skills that influence the way we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges, and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way.”
Most of the time when I speak to folks about emotional intelligence, their thoughts immediately turn inward to our personal emotion. Or perhaps they turn to a difficult relationship, a place where we are struggling relationally in our lives. Very few of us relate our emotional intelligence to our social consciousness.
Steve Stein and Howard Book, in their book on emotional intelligence called The EQ Edge, describe social responsibility as "A desire and ability to willingly contribute to society, your social group, and generally to the welfare of others."
Are you willing to test your desire and ability to willingly contribute to society?
If so, here are five questions you can ask yourself to assess your own level of social responsibility:
1. What community organizations am I currently involved in outside of my paid vocation? (Involved means regularly serving, not that your name is merely on a list).
2. What active role am I currently playing to make the organization better?
3. What did I do this week to lend a hand to someone who could use it?
4. How many examples can I cite in the last month where I was sensitive to the needs of friends, co-workers, or my boss?
5. Do I participate in charitable events?
We are never successful on our own. Real success comes from our work as a contributing member of a team or society. Having a caring and compassionate heart is a great balance for high levels of self-regard, that if left unchecked, could fall into arrogance.
After you take the assessment, talk to your spouse, significant other, coach, or a complete stranger about how you are doing. Do you have any changes you need to make to become more socially conscious? Your leadership depends on it.