The psychology of film & TV, media, & work

Great leaders feel guilty

in Work Psychology by


Ok, so now you’re reading a blog when you really should be doing some real work. Aren’t people waiting for you? Don’t you have some deliverables to finalise? Deadlines?Go on, off you go.Still here? Maybe you aren’t much of a leader. According to research, leaders are especially prone to feelings of guilt.

In an interesting study, participants engaged in a group activity where they were asked to pretend they had crash-landed on a desert island. Together they had to develop a strategy to escape and prioritise the key items from the plane for survival.Of course the exercise was just a cover for the real study. Participants also rated how guilty they normally feel—their proneness to guilt—and rated the leadership qualities of other members of the group during the activity.Before I continue, I really must reinforce my initial message. Don’t you feel guilty that you are wasting time reading about hypothetical desert islands? Starting to feel guilty? Maybe there’s leadership potential in you after all…

Where was I? Participants who were more prone to feeling guilty were also rated by their peers as better leaders!

It is argued that guilt makes leaders feel more responsible for others and more dedicated to their commitments.

What commitments have you put off to read this? Feeling guilty?


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