6 Indispensable Qualities of a Successful Social Leader

I am sure those of you filling the role of a social leader, working to bring lasting social change to your community, will agree with me – social leadership is hard.  It is definitely not for the easily discouraged.  Sometimes you work for months, even years to bring about change and seldom see any progress on your work.

Social leaders like Mother Theresa and Gandhi never saw the full impact of their leadership in their lifetime.  This characteristic of social leadership, this emotionally taxing reality raises the question:

What are the qualities necessary to be successful as a social leader?

Qualities Ensuring A Successful Social Leader

Successful social leadership qualities are not shrouded in mystery.  Anyone can develop them through disciplined practise.  Like most leadership skills, these qualities are transferable and anyone can learn to apply it.

A Social Leader Self-Correct

It is important for you as a social leader to have a clearly defined goal.
Clearly defined goals make leadership corrections easier, when you and your team stray from the pre-defined outcomes.

However, having a clearly defined goal must not impair your ability to sense when the direction is wrong.  As a social leader you must have the humility to acknowledge the mistake and the courage to make the necessary correction.

A Social Leader Share Credit

As a social leader you recognise the contribution of the individual team members.  You have the emotional maturity to know it is impossible to achieve lasting social change alone.  Therefore you readily share credit for success along the path.  Sharing credit cultivates loyalty and encourages people to offer their help.

A Social Leader Break Free of Established Structures

The reason you stepped into a social leader role is because you became aware of a problem with the current state of affairs and want to see it changed.  This gives you the courage break free from established structures in order to achieve the goal.

The aim is to bring change, either within a social context, or within an organization, by redirecting the current direction.

A Social Leader Cross Disciplinary Boundaries

As a social leader you can employ large amounts of creativity in bringing together resources in new ways, because you are not restricted by traditional structures.

You can create new social compounds, including people’s skills and experience and applying resources, different from what the main stream society is used to.  Driven to address social problems and motivated by the set preferred outcome, you readily cross-disciplinary boundaries – employing people with different skills from various functional areas to create new workable solutions.

A Social Leader Work Quietly

A Social Leader often does not fill a very public leadership role.  Much of the work you do is behind the scenes; quietly influencing people, driving change and having a seemingly unnoticed impact.

However, this quiet work cannot remain quiet, for eventually the change you have been working for will become public.

A Social Leader has a Strong Ethical Impetus

The vision of a better world drives you as a social leader.  You try to rebuild the world as we know it into a place where people will want to live in.  Such a world is a place where people are happier, the environment is more respected and people have a hope for the future.  A social leader strives to create a society where there is a harmonic way of living, free from misery.

This may seem a very idealistic or romantic view, but this is the vision.  This vision is what motivates a social leader to keep on working often in the face of great difficulty.  This vision allows a social leader to be willing to self-correct, share credit, break free from established structures, cross-disciplinary boundaries, and work quietly with a strong ethical impetus to see the change they envision happen in their lifetime.

Measuring yourself against these qualities how do you measure up?

Source: 6 Qualities of Successful Social Entrepreneurs by Stephen Palmer

About the author

Joseph Hawking has a passion for people & leadership development and since he discovered his mom’s old typewriter as a boy, have been writing in some form or another. He is part of the Leadership for The International Mentoring Network, where he is a regular Idea Studio Facilitator and Annual IMN Conference Speaker. He believes that the highest form of living is using what you have been blessed with, to add value to other people’s lives. He has been publishing The Leadership Connexion blog since August 2018.