A highly sensitive person (HSP) has the traits of a natural-born leader. They’re arguably the best people anyone could hire to run an organization.
As humans, we’re all emotional creatures. So the more equipped we are to understand people’s emotions, the better we can lead them. That’s why I believe HSPs are born to lead — because understanding people’s emotions is natural to them. When we understand people’s emotions well, we know what to say to get the best out of them. And getting the best out of people is what being a good leader is all about.
Of course, just as being tall doesn’t guarantee you’ll be an NBA star, one personality trait doesn’t guarantee you’ll be a good leader. Keeping that in mind, let’s see how HSPs have the potential to be among the best leaders in the world.
Why HSPs Make the Best Leaders
1. Their awareness of details empowers their organization.
One of the key characteristics of HSPs is they notice (and remember) almost everything. The directions to the store, the exact item to get, the amount they’ll save, and so on.Those things may seem like minor details, but minor details add up to achieving a bigger picture.
For example, let’s say a particular person working for you is vegan, doesn’t like foul language, and appreciates quiet environments. An HSP’s awareness of those details makes them able to create an environment that best suits the worker. HSPs would know to give them a work space that’s more secluded, use appropriate language around them, and provide specialized vegan meals in the cafeteria.
Because of how important it is for HSPs to work in the best environment, they naturally make sure others have that best environment, too.
In addition, HSPs remember things their workers are doing well, and what they need to improve on. HSPs can be laser-focused on giving their followers the right work material to fix a skill that’s lacking. They may even know which areas of work would be best for each specific worker to do.
For example, an HSP might remember that one of their workers is really good at writing. As a result, they’ll get them to do more work related to writing.
2. Their high emotional intelligence comforts others.
HSPs pick up on feelings quicker than most people. This is a very effective trait for a leader. You need to know when people are feeling overwhelmed and need help. An example would be a worker who looks like they’ve not been themselves lately. An HSP leader would know what to do to help them re-energize themselves, perhaps even sending them counseling services to help with their stress.
Highly sensitive people can also lead by doing some of the counseling themselves. I know with friends and close people in my life, I’m usually the one they come to for advice. Is that the case for you?
HSPs tend to get at the deeper issues that are causing the stress to occur. They listen more closely to not just what a person says, but how that person sounds, and what their body language communicates.
Their sensitivity allows them to feel people’s emotions deeply, and they take greater care in helping people get through negative ones. And because HSPs tend to show more care and do more to help, they foster better relationships in their organization. The better mood people are in, the more likely they will all get along. That creates a happier work environment for everybody to do their best.
We live in a culture that often applauds leaders who are tough-minded, strong, and hard on their followers. Leaders who push people to extremes to get the best out of them.
Maybe there’s a time and place for that. But perhaps a more effective leader is someone who gives comfort and emotional support to their followers. That kind of leadership helps people feel encouraged to keep doing their best — all because they feel valued and appreciated.
3. People trust HSPs more, creating organizational trust.
People can say a lot of negative things about HSPs, but I think it’s hard to say they’re not honest. HSPs have a much harder time hiding what they feel.
This is important, because people have to believe their leader has integrity. So with HSPs generally being more honest and authentic, they garner more trust. As a result, that makes people more likely to listen and follow their direction.
4. Highly sensitive people inspire.
The ability to inspire requires the ability to touch people’s hearts. So who better to touch a person’s heart than a highly sensitive person? Inspiring people involves knowing the words that hit the right tone and the right message.
HSPs are so in tune with those kinds of subtleties, giving them the potential to inspire others. Also, feeling emotions intensely gives them an advantage in expressing themselves in a powerful way. That can really motivate and inspire those around them to work harder.
People are quick to follow others who show their passion for their beliefs and values. There’s maybe no other type of leader that can be more passionate than an HSP.
5. HSPs naturally delegate well.
Many leaders really struggle with micromanaging everything. This causes two problems: One, there’s a lack of trust between the leader and the follower, and that can hinder open communication. Two, this distracts the leader from focusing on the most important tasks.
For an HSP, it can feel overwhelming to focus on more than one or two big things in the day. They hate being busy. Some could look at this as a weakness, but I see it as a strength, because it makes you more likely to delegate tasks to others. This accomplishes two helpful things:
- You give yourself more time to get your important tasks done.
- Your trust in your employees to handle things builds their confidence.
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6. Their need to recharge makes them effective.
Effective leaders know when to take care of themselves. They know if they take care of themselves, they’ll be their best in leading others. HSPs instinctively know when to give themselves a break and recharge their batteries. Workaholic leaders, on the other hand, burn themselves out, which leads to poor decisions and bad management.
7. HSPs try harder to avoid mistakes.
Highly sensitive people hate mistakes, so they analyze every possible outcome before making big decisions.
This kind of thoughtful deliberation can help a leader make great decisions. But be careful to avoid overthinking and not fall into perfectionism. You have to keep reminding yourself that even if you make a wrong decision, it helps you learn and do better. When HSPs realize what the right decision is after a mistake, they likely don’t make that same mistake twice.
Some leaders will only focus on their successes. The best leaders focus on their failures that help them grow and be better. This puts HSPs a step ahead of the rest in leadership. HSPs are also credible enough to hold everyone else to a high standard of decision-making as well.
8. Their natural creativity makes them innovative.
Steve Jobs once said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” The best leaders know how to make themselves and their followers stand out through creativity. The HSP’s ability to notice the subtlety of sounds, sights, and smells helps them come up with new and different ideas. Many HSPs are naturally creative, which gives them an edge in innovation.
9. Their sensitivity to criticism makes them more constructive.
Knowing how to deliver criticism can separate the good leaders from the bad ones. HSPs are highly aware of how criticism affects people, given their own sensitive experience with it. As a result, they may be more constructive in their feedback. This helps keep their employees confident they can do their job, and keep getting better.
Don’t Be Afraid to Lead
As a highly sensitive person, you have a gift for leadership. You can empathize with others in a way that makes them feel understood and loved. And because you can make people feel that way, you’re more able to get the best out of them. HSPs are the kind of leaders we need in this world now more than ever.
Don’t be afraid to take a chance. Be the one who can lead people in the best way possible. You just might help make the world a better place.