I heard a report on the BBC World Service a couple of days ago of a recent publication by Rebecca Schaumberg et al. in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. It seems that individuals who feel guilt strongly make better leaders, showing significantly more consideration for the welfare of the people they manage. The citation and abstract are below.
It struck me that this fitted the case of King Aśoka pretty well. Two personal features are particularly prominent in his inscriptions: his guilt following the war in Kalinga, and his paternal concern for the welfare of his subjects.
Citation and Abstract
Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown: The link between guilt proneness and leadership.
Schaumberg, Rebecca L.; Flynn, Francis J.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 103(2), Aug 2012, 327-342. doi: 10.1037/a0028127
- We propose that guilt proneness is a critical characteristic of leaders and find support for this hypothesis across 3 studies. Participants in the first study rated a set of guilt-prone behaviors as more indicative of leadership potential than a set of less guilt-prone behaviors. In a follow-up study, guilt-prone participants in a leaderless group task engaged in more leadership behaviors than did less guilt-prone participants. In a third, and final, study, we move to the field and analyze 360° feedback from a group of young managers working in a range of industries. The results indicate that highly guilt-prone individuals were rated as more capable leaders than less guilt-prone individuals and that a sense of responsibility for others underlies the positive relationship between guilt proneness and leadership evaluations. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)