Over the last several years that I've been working with business owners, entrepreneurs and those seeking to begin their own businesses, there seems to have been an underlying theme revolving around leadership. I recently wrote an article ("The Meaning and Essence of Business Leadership") and thought it would be beneficial to continue this topic with the focus on Social Responsibility. We know leaders are not made; nor are they "born," even though there are individuals who seem to exude all the necessary qualities that make a great leader and are therefore are referred to "born leaders." But what is this sought-after set of skills and abilities that makes you a great leader, and do you possess the desire to become a great leader? If you are asking yourself these questions (as well as can you do if you want to acquire these leadership skills not just from a business perspective but possibly from a personal one), read on.
The first quality is respect; individuals can easily look up to and respect you as a leader if you respect them. Their respect will be based on your ability to communicate easily and compassionately your expectations of them. This is the second quality of a great leader: being a compassionate communicator. Within your mutual respect, your communication style will be inspiring. Those whom you lead will feel empowered by you to step out and up into their reaching for their goals—one of which will be to "please" you and to live up to your expectations. So the third quality is being able to inspire those who follow you. Now that we’ve covered three qualities that support being a great leader, let’s look at what might be another quality on which we often focus and talk about less but is nevertheless equally (if not more) important; that is, business leadership is based on social responsiveness.
But what is "Social Responsiveness?" How does business leadership encompass it? Social responsiveness essentially means that as a leader in business you are not only concerned with making profit but you also focus on being responsible for social development. It is not all about how smartly and wisely you can lead the world but also that you are not ignoring the values such as decency, integrity and simple morality of those who follow. Being socially responsive means adjusting your decision-making strategies to be in alignment with your values and morals while also respecting the values of your employees, customers and business associates –better known as your stakeholders. This will fulfill your stakeholders both personally and professionally and let them know how your decisions affect the others around you, which empowers you to be socially responsible. This doesn’t mean you are always saying "yes" or trying to please everyone, but it does mean you're willing to earn a little profit to support the greater good.
Business leaders who are in alignment with their values and morals have accepted their social responsibility (and as a result improve their bottom lines), have a more grounded employee base, and enjoy increased respect of their decisions. As their respect grows, so too does their loyalty of the stakeholders. Customers today are better connected than they were a decade ago, and they use these connections to get recommendations, give referrals and learn about the social consciousness of a business and its management team. Initially embracing your social responsibility as a leader may provide more challenges than you think, and working through these challenges will allow your business to be stronger and more competitive while allowing you to grow and truly become the leader you desire to be.
When it comes to business leadership and social responsibility, it is not only about making the "touchy-feely" decisions. Remember that a good and genuine business leader knows how to lead by integrating business and social relations together, thus making sure the business decisions made are in the best interest of every individual and not only for the business itself.
Until next time, embrace your inner wisdom.