Monday, February 7, 2011

Why Feeling Bad for Some Leaders is Actually Good

Feeling Guilty is Good for Leaders

By Barbara LaBier

Guilt-ridden people make great leaders according to new study from data gathered through Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. A link between performance and guilt showed that people who were guiltier than others received higher performance rating from their bosses and were perceived as stronger leaders by peers.

Director of the Center of Leadership Development Francis J. Flynn, gave 150 workers in the finance department of a Fortune 500 firm a psychological test which measured guilt and compared the results with their performance reviews.

One surprising finding was that these bosses with high levels of guilt felt guilty when they accepted layoffs and carried them out to be good soldiers and believed in the organization.

Guilt can be good the author concludes because guilty and more neurotic people are more altruistic and willing to help others. That is not to say, however, that organizations should create guilt in employees to improve performance. More research is needed to access the effects of guilt on a leader and the stress it brings into their life.

Excerpted from the Harvard Business Review January-February 2011

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