Question:  Do good leaders have some innate trait which gives them an advantage? 

I spend a lot of time researching what’s behind the differences in the effectiveness of individuals; often finding hard evidence supporting many of those things we all take for granted. I don’t mean urban myths, but those homilies we hear while growing up. Many have roots in science – particularly biology, behaviorism, and neuropsychiatry.

Take the concept of being highly sensitive for instance: Depending on whom you are, what you do, and with whom you associate, it can be valued as an important trait. Or not.

For instance, if a woman tells another that she is very sensitive, it can be a great compliment; however if a guy tells another guy that he’s really sensitive it’s not usually taken the same way. It might even be used in some circles as a crack; as if to say the guy is a sissy, or too in-touch with things in some way. Those folks miss the point that this trait, being sensitive, can make one a far more successful in their career. It has everything to do with ‘trusting one’s gut’ or ‘having a feel for the environment’. I believe that most great leaders are more sensitive than those around them, and they innately use this to become better at what they do. 

Although we can teach people in management technique and style, we still see people who – despite their training – are bad managers.  And, on-the-job experience can be critical for anyone to have a chance to succeed; but being born with something which makes one more ‘aware’ is a real benefit in management

A while back I learned a specific definition for what makes up a highly sensitive person (termed by the specialists as an HSP). As well, there are a set of characteristics which highly sensitive people usually possess. According to a specialist I met with to discuss it, up to 40% of the population may be highly sensitive, and it seems to be split evenly between genders. In addition to being intuitive – not a word guys use frequently – if you are one of those individuals who feel compelled to organize or feel discomfort when things are out of your control you may be highly sensitive .  Many people who are labeled as being shy or introverted are actually HSP’s; and in general, a highly sensitive person is more easily over stimulated, stressed out or overwhelmed.

This is something everyone should know about.  If you are an HSP, you can use it to your advantage in both career and personal situations.  And if not, being aware of the concept can make you more successful when working with or for an HSP, even if that person isn’t aware of it.

If you’d like to see if you’re one of these types, go to one of these sites:

Highly Sensitive

Highly Sensitive

                                                                    Till next time,


                                                                      Career Coach