Do you constantly feel guilty about not doing enough at work? Do you worry about not meeting the expectations of your boss? Feeling guilty can be daunting, however it might also mean that you could make a pretty good leader one day.

In a study, Francis J Flynn, a Professor in Organisational Behaviour, found that people who prone to feeling guilty are more likely to be hard workers, be more willing to help others, be more committed to their colleagues and generally perform better at work. In turn, this allows them to receive better performance reviews from their seniors. It is mostly their strong sense of leadership however, that makes other people perceive them to be good leaders. If an individual feels responsible enough for the issue at hand, then it is likely that he or she will be more determined to find a solution.

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The research also concluded that guilt-prone people are more likely to see the bigger picture in respect to their company’s needs. Because of the high tendency to feel guilty, such employees are more likely to be present at work, even if they are not feeling too well or if there is the need to stay overtime to finish the project at hand. They are also more likely to care about rules, ethics and values. In short, they might just be the ‘perfect employee’.

Guilt is a concept which is widely studied in the psychological sphere and other research also sheds light on the traits of guilt-prone people.

Research by the British Psychological Society shows that those who are guilt-prone tend to have better relationship skills than people who do not. This is because they are better at reading other people’s emotions and in turn, show more empathy with others. This theory is also backed up by a study Psychologist June Tangney, who found that while shame-prone people deny their responsibility, guilt-prone individuals are more likely to accept responsibility and show less aggression towards others.

There is indeed a difference between shame-prone and guilt-prone people. An experiment carried out by Brene Brown found that guilt-prone people are more likely to take charge in a group, lead the discussion and make sure everyone’s voice is being heard. Furthermore, whilst shame-prone people engage in unconstructive anger, guilt-prone people are more likely to be proactive and try to help come up with a solution.

It seems the traits linked to guilt-prone people are indeed essential for leadership. However, leadership also requires an individual to demonstrate other qualities. Confidence, focus, integrity, decisiveness and the ability to be insightful are just a few of the very important qualities aspiring leaders must also possess.

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