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About SEL

This introduction to Social and Emotional Leadership (SEL) explains what it is, its role in the workforce, and why it must be a top priority for organizations.

What is Social and Emotional Leadership?

“No one cares how much you know

until they know how much you care.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

Social and Emotional Leadership (SEL) is, in many ways, the heart of being human as people are the most important asset of any company.


According to the Center for Creative Leadership, 75% of careers are “derailed for reasons related to emotional competencies, such as:

  • the inability to handle interpersonal problems

  • ineffective team leadership during times of difficulty

  • the inability to adapt to change or elicit trust.”

Social and Emotional Leadership is when one recognizes, supports, and builds on the assets, cultural capital, and experiences of others. This is done to ensure the intersectionality, talents, and gifts of all people reap the full benefits of each other in an organization. Social Emotional Intelligence, Collective Wellness, and Equity have to be at the core of this work to establish conducive and inclusive work environments that are safe and secure for all employees. It is a skill that can be developed through practice. Being proactive and preventative is a choice many organizations are making. Through application, your brain adapts to making these behaviors automatic replacing the less helpful behaviors.

What is the role of Social and Emotional Leadership in the workplace?

It will be important to incorporate SEL into decisions and actions taken within the workplace. SEL is the change agent organizations will use to successfully incorporate systematic, sustainable, long-term changes to propel your company forward as employee needs and expectations are shifting. Employees with higher social and emotional learning naturally work better as a team for several reasons. Here are some examples of possible outcomes:


  • Culture & Climate - The morale is higher due to the trusting environment the employees work in where they can bring their authentic self to work which improves retention.

  • Productivity & Innovation - By focusing on each individual on the team and their strengths, their physical and mental health and well-being, you can gain a competitive advantage as the employees will be more productive, creative, and innovative.


  • Collaboration & Trust - The employees are better at communicating, value the team’s input and ideas, and more effective cross-functional teams, thoughtful, and gracious which creates a more cohesive team. 


  • Social Responsibility & Adaptability - Employees that have social and emotional skills find it easier to adjust and adapt to changes that companies know are inevitable as all strive to improve in order to stay ahead of the competition.


Similarly, a lower level of SEL can be detrimental to the workplace. At its worst, it can be seen in bullying, harassment, demotivation, and unproductive staff which has an overall impact on the company climate, culture, and productivity.


Embodying Social and Emotional Leadership Means
Remembering to Recharge Yourself First

In order to lead well, a person must be well. Download the PDF below for a guide on daily self-care practices you should not be skipping. 

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