Are You Socially Constipated by William Powell

You’re on Facebook and your cover photo is just dead wicked. You have a Twitter account with over 10k followers and pretty solid engagement. Your LinkedIn profile proudly displays 500+ connections and well over 50 recommendations. You have ventured into Google+ and your circles would make Chris Brogan feel like the nerdy kid never picked to be on the team. So you’re a leader/organization that is socially on top of things, right? You couldn’t be any more wrong.

Social media and engaging via these platforms makes up a small PART of the social equation for what is needed to be a successful 21st century leader/business. Social responsibility or social enterprise only truly exists when a need is met, not when the proverbial boxes are ticked.

Here are 7 key areas to ensure that you and your organization avoid social constipation. These are based on ISO 26000 Social Responsibility standard.

  1. Organizational Governance – The old adage “clean up your own back yard” definitely applies here. You can’t expect to make a positive difference in the lives of people in an external community if you haven’t accomplished it in your internal community.
  2. Human Rights – Your efforts should not only avoid violations of human rights, but actually build up and support the proliferation of human rights. This isn’t just something you do in developing countries but in the communities in which you do business, in your customer service policies and in your HR strategies for your own people.
  3. Labor Practices – The easy view of this is how you treat your own people, but what about your supply chain? How do your vendors manage this issue? Make it a point to keep this as a condition of business partnership in any capacity.
  4. The Environment – This has much more nuance than “Don’t put mercury in baby food.” Of course protect the ecological environment, but don’t ignore the working environment that your organizational culture creates. Don’t let the word environment limit what it can mean.
  5. Fair Operating Practices – In a word…ethics. It’s terribly overused, but “Would you treat your mother this way?” This applies to vision, strategy, pricing, customer service and any other aspect in which your organization has an impact on the lives of others.
  6. Consumer Issues – Sure we need to protect those who consume our products and services. How well do you protect those who consume your leadership, culture or engagement practices? Is it done with the same care and concern for the profitability, image and future of your organization?
  7. Community Involvement and Development – How are you involved in the community? How do the people who may not be able to afford your product or service view your brand? Not only do you need to make a positive difference in their lives, but also in the lives of those in your own community…your employees.

As you can see, the last 6 of these not only apply externally but also refer to the first core subject for social responsibility; organizational governance. Successful 21st century leaders will be masters of creating social homeostasis. Balance, hope, value and equality will be the pillars which drive social change as well as the profits of companies that are to experience longevity.

What do you need to address to ditch your social constipation?


William Powell is the Executive Director of The Leadership Advisor. As a consultant and speaker in the areas of leadership, culture and engagement he consistently works globally with organizations to Engineer Atmosphere. William is a staunch advocate of social enterprise who understands the connection between profitability and social responsibility. William is the author of Personal Ecology:  Self Management and the Art of Cultivating Healthy Relationships

Photo courtesy of Abulic Monkey

William is the Executive Director of The Leadership Advisor, an OD consulting company that works that globally with organizations in the areas of leadership, culture and employee engagement. His message "Human Flourishing is Profitable" has helped earn him the distinction of being an ambassador for the European Workplace Innovation Network (EUWIN), which is supported by the European Commission. William is a playful, witty and painfully honest speaker with a no non-sense approach. He is also the author of Personal Ecology: Self Management and the Art of Cultivating Healthy Relationships.

  • Alan Kay

    Great question and terrific insights. For some leaders this list might be intimidating or idealistic and therefore hard to consider. So, how do we get them on board?
    Take an adaptive approach, i.e., set out to achieve the 7 points, but don’t look to have them happen all at once. Even for those that find the list calls for complete action on their part my recommendation would be:
    – Scale 1-10 where you are on each of the 7 points
    – Describe what’s already working in each one, no matter how already little works
    – Describe in detail what it will be like when it’s working
    – Develop some small steps to get going immediately

  • William Powell

    Great points Alan. Implementation of each of these can be entirely another challenge. Usually understanding the WHAT before the HOW is easiest, so I thought I would help get these things at least on the radar.

    I appreciate your contribution and thoughtful comments. A great implementation strategy for any type of medium to large scale change.

  • There’s a more human way to do business.

    In the Social Age, it’s how we engage with customers, collaborators and strategic partners that matters; it’s how we create workplace optimism that sets us apart; it’s how we recruit, retain (and repel) employees that becomes our differentiator. This isn’t a “people first, profits second” movement, but a “profits as a direct result of putting people first” movement.

  • Connect

    Newsletter Subscription

    Do you like our posts? If so, you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up HERE and receiveThe ExchangeGain Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!
  • Contact Us