Emotionally Sensitive? You are No Leader

[May 12, 2018]  It is often said that those who possess a thick skin are likely to live more satisfying lives and that is more successful too.  From research into this area of study, we also see that those who are emotionally sensitive do not make good leaders.

This is long been a question of social inquiry; why do emotionally sensitive people have trouble in leadership positions.  One reason is that they are less likely to have a good grasp on controlling their emotions.  Experienced leaders will tell you that emotion can never be removed from their own behavior but it is controlled to a point that its impact is less severe.

“You have to grow a thick skin and that only comes with time and learning.” – Karlie Kloss, American model

This quote from American model Karlie Kloss, should come as no surprise to those who are familiar with the entertainment industry.  In fact, if you look for quotes from famous singers, artists, and actors, you will quickly discover that they talk about having a tough skill often.

The issue here, and is not to be misunderstood, is that emotion is a two-edged sword.  On the one hand, it can hurt us by its unpredictability and prohibits us from thinking logically and staying focused.  On the other hand, it fuels our desires to do well; often referred to as passion.

Passion is the holy grail of good leadership.  It is the driving force behind everything we do whether we are a line cook in a fast-food restaurant or the president of a large company.  Those who have it know its immense power and know it provides the motivation to achieve greatness.  Those who possess passion will always be at the forefront of any human activity.

Leadership is, of course, difficult.  This is one reason that is true.  As we have heard many times before, a burning desire is sometimes the only thing that keeps you going when the chips are down.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

25 thoughts on “Emotionally Sensitive? You are No Leader

  1. Chintan Patel

    But there are rare exceptions like Steve Jobs

    1. Eric Coda

      Chintan. I too can think of several very successful exceptions. There are, I think, pretty rare overall. On the average though, those who are overly sensitive have problems exercising their tasks as leaders.

  2. Darryl Sitterly

    Good blog post today. I think instead of “you are no leader” perhaps better to say “you are a poor leader.” Just my thought but probably more accurate.

    1. Edward Kennedy III

      I get what you mean Darryl but I believe Gen Satterfield should not be taken literally here and he is emphasizing that there are certain things that make a leader almost worthless (or worse, dangerous). Glad to see you commenting here. Good bunch on educated commentators; something rare on pages like this.

  3. Dale Paul Fox

    Good article today Gen Satterfield. This is a subject thas intrigued me and other psychologists for a long time. Today we still see many professional studies that look into how emotion affects decision making. Thanks.

  4. Mr. T.J. Asper

    I see it also on the playing field with my students. But there is a balance that must be struck. Too much passion and it spills into a thinking you are invincible and then they make stupid mistakes. Not enough passion and they don’t work hard enough.

  5. Georgie M.

    Good article on an emotional subject (yes, pun intended). This is, I think, what leadership is about; overcoming obstacles and our own limitations.

  6. José Luis Rodriguez

    After much thought about my climb to adulthood, I realized that me and my friends did almost everything we did based on a personal want (emotions) and nothing to do with others that didn’t also have something to do with us. Emotion is a strong – no, very strong – thing that is an element that can never be eliminated without removing our humanness.

    1. Jerome Smith

      Some of us, like you and me, grow up but some never do and wonder why they don’t do well as adults.

  7. Tracey Brockman

    Emotions, as researchers have told us over and again, is both a good and a possible bad. Some have cited psych studies that hammer this point. But what I’d like to add is that leaders must make a concerted effort to control “haste” in decision making that is often the result of emotional drivers. This haste has the impact of introducing risk into any decision and thus a random element that can and likely will cause a problem.

  8. Bill Sanders, Jr.

    As usual, great article on an appropriate topic. I also liked your daily articles today on Candace Owens who is certainly a brave young lady who is willing to go against a popular movement in the black community.

  9. Max Foster

    Brig Gen Satterfield, hey, how about bringing back Sadako Red for another article. I think he is great on the issue of emotion and stupid politicians. 🙂

  10. Yusaf from Texas

    Another good article today, Gen Satterfield. I would like to see you write about how fear affects our decisions also. Thank you.

    1. Bryan Lee

      I agree, a possible future topic of interest. At least it is to me.

  11. Albert Ayer

    Good point Greg (and others here) but what do we do to overcome this problem? When it is a problem that is. As noted here, passion can be a positive force. Some say that passion is positive channeling of random emotions.

  12. Greg Heyman

    I think we all know that emotions shape our decision making … always this is true. The issue at hand that Gen Satterfield is writing about is that we find many leaders who let their emotions overrule their logical thinking and thus make decisions that are no good. That makes them a failed leader.

  13. Mark Evans

    Emotions can and do, undoubtedly, get in the way of making good quality decisions. There is no lack of understanding on this issue. Some can overcome it and others cannot. Those are the facts of life and something that leaders should pay close attention to. Thanks for another good article Gen Satterfield.

  14. Janna Faulkner

    Not to quote US Pres Bill Clinton but maybe it’s about the meaning of the word sensitive. If it means overly emotional, then yes I think this article is on target.

  15. Army Captain

    I guess it’s what you’re sensitive about.

    1. Joey Holmes

      I can agree with Army Captain. Cheers!

Comments are closed.