The Legacy of Service — Social Responsibility

  Social Responsibility - Volunteer Lend a Hand Image

How big is your world? Social Responsibility, one of the fifteen competencies of Emotional Intelligence, involves being a cooperative, contributing and constructive part of a team or community.

Instead of self-absorption, social responsibility focuses on the betterment of all and interpersonal sensitivity. It has an outward focus aimed at the ability to accept others, use talents and act in a responsible way to move people/projects forward.

Many Emotional Intelligence scholars say that because Social Responsibility is directed outward it is one of the easiest competencies to change. In fact, as the Social Responsibility competency changes and grows, other Emotional Intelligence competencies develop with it.

As you know service to others has a lasting impact. It changes your mindset in very fundamental ways.

“I believe that all people regardless of where we live, the color of our skin, our ethic or religious background, have an innate ability to do something good for someone else. Our desire to help others doesn’t always come out-sometimes we need others to prompt or inspire us.”

Joe Alcodray,

Years ago while working as a Training Manager for a major department store, I initiated a large project to benefit a battered women’s shelter. This project centered on makeovers to stimulate the self-esteem necessary for the women to apply for jobs and go on interviews.

Individuals and companies donated clothes, cosmetic companies gave products and a local hair salon enabled employees to participate. So, for two Saturdays each month, our team saw transformations in the women at the shelter.

And, transformations in ourselves. While changing the spirit of others, we changed the spirit of ourselves — that is the true sense and purpose of Social Responsibility.

“Volunteerism provides me a sense of accomplishment unlike any other pass time. You can read a book about helping the disadvantaged, but when you actually do something to make a difference; it’s rewarding as ever.”

Gary Helton, Big Brothers Big Sisters

While facilitating Emotional Intelligence sessions, I have been overwhelmed by the contributions participants have made and stated in class. Examples include: helping serve meals to the homeless, assisting those sick with AIDS, bringing meals to shut ins and senior citizens, tutoring ESL children, volunteering on church projects in third world countries—the list goes on and on.

The key is to find a project that has your heart. If you have “cold feet”, go with a friend or team of people until you fully understand the experience. Whatever you choose from planting trees to working a food drive, your presence will be felt and appreciated.

“The main pleasure of volunteering has been what I’ve learned about taking action. Responding to a plea for help crowds out any cynicism I may feel about the world. My best advice is to take action of any kind. Doing something positive changes the media’s message from one of hopelessness to one of opportunity.”

Cora Judd, Warm Soles (Shoes and Jackets for Afghanistan)

As busy people with work and home responsibilities, it may be difficult to partake in a large community project. However, your actions and intentions may be seen in every day work life.

Think about how you could improve your team behavior. Do you listen? Do you collaborate with others? Do your actions reflect what is good for the organization or what is only good for you? When you are the leader, the people around you examine your behaviors from every angle.

Are you instilling a culture of Social Responsibility?

When practiced, Social Responsibility provides one of life’s greatest rewards. Contributions, large or small, create positive dividends for others, the work we do, our communities and ourselves.