Why Social Responsibility Matters for Leaders

Today, the 5th of September, marks International Day of Charity. It was declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012, with the purpose being to raise awareness for and promote the importance of charitable, philanthropic and volunteer activities.

Many organisations have Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies or promote social responsibility as a core value. Social Responsibility is one of the subscales on the EQ-i 2.0 measure of Emotional intelligence; This willingness to be a contributing group member is regarded as an important interpersonal skill. It is not just about writing a cheque, but rather about wanting to help others and have a positive impact on one’s social groups or communities.


Dr Steven Stein, in his book ‘The EQ Leader’ (2017), says he believes that social responsibility will become the signature strength of tomorrow’s leaders.

However, there has been some scepticism, with some struggling to see the importance. Stein cites research in his book which highlights some key benefits:


  1. There is a strong link between a leaders’ social responsibility and their ethical behaviour.


  1. Socially responsible leaders are regarded as less authoritarian and less tyrannical.


  1. Employees in organisations with socially responsible CEOs may be more committed and emotionally invested in the company.


  1. Being committed to social responsibility makes a company more attractive in particular to younger workers.


For leaders, this skill helps them to command esteem from their employees by being authentic. Authentic leaders lead with their heart, not just their minds. They are a role model for good and fair behaviour, take opportunities to help the team and the organisation, and promote the greater good, which helps them to bring people along with them.

Having a social consciousness can bring personal and organisational benefits, as well as doing good for the community and the world.