Are You Lacking the Forgotten Emotional Intelligence Competency?

Read this post with CAUTION. There is an ask of you at the end…. As I sit and write this post, the day is September 11th. Most of us can still recall exactly where we were between 8:45am and 9:45am EST during that fateful hour when

  • Five hijackers crashed American Airlines Flight 11 into the World Trade Center's North Tower.
  • Another five hijackers crashed United Airlines Flight 175 into the South Tower.
  • Five hijackers flew American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon.
  • A fourth flight, United Airlines 93, controlled by 4 highjackers crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

I was a sales manager at the time and in downtown Chicago at the Holiday Inn for a meeting. We watched the tragedy on television for about an hour before we were told to evacuate the city because it was thought the Sears Tower, which was a few blocks away, could be a target.


Like it or not, the world around me is bigger than me. Events such as this remind me of how simultaneously significant and insignificant I am.

News flash! I am not the center of the universe.

News flash! Neither are you!!!

Because we are not the center of the universe competencies such as social responsibility are so important in any model for leadership. If you read this blog on any regular basis you know that one of the best leadership models, in my opinion, 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, the thoughts immediately turn inward to our own 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."

Social responsibility is a desire, an ability, and a volition. Can you? Do you want to? Are you willing to act? The competency of social responsibility asks if there is anything emotionally holding you back from serving others.

The idea behind social responsibility is that you will act as a leader even though you might not benefit personally. There is 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?

5 Questions To Assess Your Level of Social Responsibility

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.

Here is a quick assessment you can give 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 serving, not that your name is on a list)

2. What active role am I currently playing to make the organization better?

3. What did you do this week to lend a hand to someone who could use it?

4. How many examples can you cite in the last month where you were sensitive to the needs of friends, co-workers, or your boss?

5. Do you participate in charitable events?

No Guilt Trip

When I bring this topic up with clients the response I usually get is that I am giving them a “guilt trip." 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 out your selfish ambition. Most of us as leaders are trying to find a flow between work, family, recreation, and faith. Where does service fit for you? If you dedicate too much to any one of these areas, the flow becomes restricted in other places.

Is it healthy for you to be the focus of your life and the center of your universe? My guess is that none of us really feel this way. However, the busier we become, the more self-absorbed we seem to get and the flow of our leadership lives suffers.


Your homework this week is to take the 5 question assessment above. 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.

PS.  I almost forgot about the big ask. Speaking of social responsibility, I signed up to run in the “Purple Stride” Run for pancreas cancer this weekend in Columbus, Ohio. I am running in honor of my good friend Roy Holcomb who passed away from this disease last year. If you enjoy reading this blog and would like to help, my goal is to reach $800 in one week. You only have 1 week to give, so don’t put it off. If everyone who reads this gives $5 we would kill that goal. I had a generous sponsor get me started with $40 gift. Will you help? Click here to give. Thanks in advance. Scott