Highly sensitive at work: High Sensitive Leadership


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The opinions on the topic Guide Going far apart and the budget location for leadership development share more and more coaches and speakers. But what makes good leadership? And how can highly sensitive executives use their gift wisely?

Highly sensitive managers

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Kathrin Sohst Kathrin SohstKathrin Sohst is an ambassador for high-sensitivity, a PR consultant and a book author.

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A conversation about high sensitivity and leadership

Highly sensitive managers, do they even exist? Yes of course! And there is even one who has searched for them and found them. And not only that. Daniel Panetta, owner of the “ConsultundTrainingUnit”, wrote a master's thesis entitled “High Sensory-Processing Sensitivity and Leadership” and dedicated his degree in business psychology, leadership and management to the topic of highly sensitive managers. I have the result of our discussions for Best of HR – Berufebilder.de® summarized.

Kathrin Sohst: Daniel, you have leadership experience yourself, you are an expert in leadership and change and have dealt intensively with highly sensitive managers. Before we talk about the highly sensitive aspects of leadership, I'm interested in what, in your understanding, means “good leadership”.

Daniel Panetta: I don't think there is such a thing as “good leadership”. Because what is it anyway? I would like to speak of ideal and then we need at least the context. Because leadership has to be situational and authentic, which for me means that the thoughts on the inside and the actions on the outside match. And one more thing is absolutely necessary: ​​a good leader sees their employees as people. This also includes accepting people as they are - with their whole background. Leadership is not just about tasks, it means taking responsibility in the human and social sphere. A good leader can vary depending on the situation. In the military or time-critical large-scale projects, it can Sense do when someone leads rough and dominant, in pedagogy or in a change context, completely different leadership qualities are required. Those who have a wide range of skills can act well to be able to act flexibly or react to situations.

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“Highly sensitive leaders have the ability to predict certain things”

Kathrin Sohst: Way from the general, to the special. Let's talk about high-minded leadership personalities. What is typical of highly sensitive people who do a leadership job?

Daniel Panetta: There is a spectrum - the “theory of mind” - on the scale of which the highly sensitive people frolic at the high values ​​and the autistic people at the lower values. While autistic people tend to act and speak in a rational, object-related manner, highly sensitive people orientate themselves to the subject, that is to say to people, and - as I assume - have a rather emotional language. highly sensitive people have a more emotionalized language and are oriented towards the subject, i.e. people. Many of them prefer tasks with advisory or teaching parts because they need an activity that can bring them into line with their values. They focus on relationship work and understand leadership as a task that involves accompanying people. The leadership style of highly sensitive people can be described as cooperative, in partnership, as well as demanding and demanding. Highly sensitive leaders have the ability to anticipate certain things - such as the moods or reactions of their employees or customers. They have a good sense of situations and know when they can easily defuse them by avoiding confrontation and letting the emotions boil down on all sides.

Impressive, I find that they are very reflective and also ask themselves whether their behavior was adequate. Highly sensitive executives scan permanently in the background. The more critical the interpersonal situation becomes - for example, a critical employee discussion - the more challenging it becomes for highly sensible management personalities. Critical situations always work physically because of their high sensitivity. Highly sensitive people take moods, conflicts and co. Also was consciously physical. This can be a strength in certain situations, but also become a challenge. Because as soon as a highly sensitive person perceives that the mood can tilt and a danger for the HSP leadership emerges, the highly sensible executive takes the situation out of the situation. After that, it takes a lot of planning work to go back into the topic and clarify the problem.

Kathrin Sohst: How would you summarize your insights about high-minded executives?

Daniel Panetta: Highly sensitive executives act out of an active position and sometimes from an avoiding. Thus, a highly sensitive leader is somewhat more extreme as far as his moods are concerned. And this can have a positive or negative impact. The highly sensitive executives I interviewed for my master's thesis wanted to radiate more dominance and harder to get through. In situations where dominance and penetration are required, high-sensitivity executives often encounter a conflict with their own value system and a physical over-excitation. In one case, however, highly sensitive leaders react quickly and strongly - namely, when it becomes unjust. Bullying and other human misconduct will not be tolerated. And then, high-minded executives go straight to court with the misbehavior.

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Kathrin Sohst: What can you recommend to highly sensitive leaders?

Daniel Panetta: I have three aspects. On the one hand, I would like to draw attention to the fact that, in the sense of diversity, all people have different challenges and requirements and develop individual survival strategies. One of them is the highly sensitive temperament - a natural way of playing nature. Another aspect is to stimulate thought: I noticed that some of my interviewees had dealt with the phenomenon for years and used the related vocabulary. Language influences us. And if certain features stand for high sensitivity, then it can also lead to adaptation, definition and possibly limitation. And the last message includes very practical tips. For example, high-sensibility can go into nature to find peace and inner peace. You can avoid large-scale bourgeoisie, look at what working hours lie to them. The trend is not only socially but also in the profession of individualization. Of these new freerooms can be enjoyed by highly sensitive people and also highly sensitive leaders.

Kathrin Sohst: In our society, sensitivity is currently not seen as a strong characteristic. The impression may be correspondingly increased, if someone speaks of highly sensible people. What do you think about it?

Daniel Panetta: When we look at the ideal composition of a group, it makes sense if the individual members have different abilities so that the group as a whole can survive. For example, one who is particularly intelligent, one who is constantly moving, is an adaptive and a sensitive person who perceives changes and dangers early. It is important that they find a common way to communicate constructively. I believe that by the various psychological illnesses and the standardized requirements to humans, we are much too limited and prevent teams from becoming really strong. Diversity is everywhere. The biggest mistake we can make is to give Prussian all the same tasks. I've always been against this.

I have to see what people bring with them instead of grinding them like a stone. Otherwise, I can wash down what God has given them right away in the toilet ... And that's exactly what happens too often. How about if we start to consider previously undiscovered skills as intangible assets. It is desperate to see how much damage is being done in companies because people are often misused. There are high absences and hardly anyone can really show their potential. I think it would be fantastic if we start using people in such a way that they can bring in their evolutionary psychological skills to solve certain problems and start to create an appropriate environment ...

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Kathrin Sohst: Thank you for your time and the interesting insights into your insights and approaches regarding leadership.


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  1. Daniel Panetta

    Dear readers,
    Thanks for the letters and the interest in the topic! I am looking forward to more mails and an in-depth exchange.

    Good time.
    Your
    Daniel Panetta

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