The Skills and Values of Socially Responsible Leadership
Today, the world is changing faster than ever before, and intelligent leaders have to deliver more in the way of tangible business results while proactively defining the place of their organizations in the greater scheme of society. No longer can one afford to ignore the societal expectations of an ever-more socially aware customer base.
Solving problems in the community is good for business.
Taking the lead in promoting positive social change has become inextricably intertwined with sound business practices and profits.
The science of leadership development has long associated social change with emerging leadership and leadership training. If we define leadership as a transformative, change-directed, relational, and process-oriented phenomenon, it is easy to see why that is the case.
These same principles also act as the supporting pillars of positive social change. It is thus clear that to encourage socially responsible leadership, leadership development professionals should train their focus on a handful of well-defined skills and values.
What Are the Skills and Values That Define Socially Responsible Leadership?
In my books, I have always stressed the importance of self-awareness and the ability to cooperate effectively. Interestingly, these leadership competencies incorporate the values and skills that define socially responsible leadership.
- Consciousness of self
- Common purpose
- The ability to handle controversy with civility
- The ability to relate positively to change
These skills and values are essential for good leadership on the society, group, and individual levels, thus providing a thorough description of what we perceive as socially responsible leadership.
Consciousness of Self
The consciousness of self is by no means an easy concept to accurately define. In the current context, however, we can simplify its meaning. You exhibit consciousness of self if you are comfortable expressing yourself and if you consciously and intentionally assign higher priority in your life to values about which you are passionate.
Citizenship is about being part of a community and feeling an obligation and urgency to play an active role in it. Leaders who possess this characteristic never feel incapable of making a difference for others. They are aware that the power of the community stems from the individual contributions of its members.
A congruent leader exhibits behaviors that are in-line with his or her beliefs. Such a leader will not think twice about standing up for his or her beliefs.
Common purpose is a characteristic of groups, the members of which share values and beliefs. When coupled with congruence, common purpose leads to action. Leaders with common purpose take an active role in defining the collective values of their teams and communicate these values often.
We can define collaboration as the ability to work well in groups. Leaders who possess this trait also believe that the key to better outcomes lies in getting people to work together.
Collaboration and commitment can change the world.
To commit to values is to allocate time and personal resources to things that reflect these values. A committed leader never just talks the talk. He or she is ready to walk the walk as well, thus inspiring employees to follow suit.
Handling Controversy with Civility
A mature leader does not view controversy as a win/lose confrontation. Instead, he or she is keen to hear differences in opinions, seeing the situation as an opportunity to shed light on an issue from different angles while enriching his/her thinking.
Change is the only constant in today’s world. The intelligent leader sees opportunity in change. He or she is comfortable and eager to look at things from new perspectives and to work in changing environments.
Exercising social responsibility should not stop at the level of words. Leadership training can help leaders translate corporate social responsibility into concrete actions that drive both positive social change and better business results for organizations.
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