5 Reasons Why Middle Children Make Great Employees

Donna Fenn

Here is an article written by Donna Fenn for BNET, The CBS Interactive Business Network. To check out an abundance of valuable resources and obtain a free subscription to one or more of the BNET newsletters, please click here.

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If you’ve ever uttered the words “troubled middle child,” you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of The Secret Power of Middle Children: How Middleborns Can Harness Their Unexpected and Remarkable Abilities by Catherine Salmon, PhD., and Katrin Schumann.

The book is a fascinating look at how the characteristics and behaviors of “middleborns” can actually lead to extraordinary success. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Michael Dell were middle kids; so were Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Madonna, David Letterman, and the Dalai Lama “There’s this image we have of middle child syndrome,” says Salmon. “But the majority are extremely successful and have gone about their success very quietly.” Middleborns also make stellar employees, she says.

[Here are the first three of five reasons that Fenn discusses. To read the complete article, please click here.]

• Flexibility. “Especially today, it’s very important to be flexible,” says Salmon. “When middleborns are growing up, they don’t get their way because they’re the biggest, and they don’t get their way because they’re the baby who was indulged.” And so middleborns learn to roll with the punches, and to get what they need by negotiating. “They also tend to be very open to experience, and willing to try new things,” says Salmon. “They tend to be moderate risk takers.”

• Empathy. ”Middleborns generally have very good social and negotiating abilities,” says Salmon. “This comes from not being in a position of physical power, like the oldest, or having manipulative powers, like the youngest.  They tend not to be overbearing, and they’re very cooperative in terms of management style and good at working in teams and groups. We find that when they become effective leaders, they do so because of this personal style.”

• Ability to self-manage. ”Many people complain that when people are hired as new workers, they aren’t self-starters,” Salmon notes. “Because middleborns had less parental control and more freedom, they’re used to working independently and tend to do so effectively in the workplace.  They are not overly fastidious and organized like first can be, no do they fly by the seat of their pants, as lasts often do. Much of being successful in the workplace relies on avoiding extremes.”

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Donna Fenn is the author of Upstarts: How Gen Y Entrepreneurs are Rocking the World of Business and 8 Ways You Can Profit From Their Success and Alpha Dogs: How Your Small Business Can Become a Leader of the Pack. She has more than twenty years experience writing about entrepreneurship and small business trends as a contributing editor at Inc. magazine, an expert on Business.com, and a featured expert on SBTV.com. To visit her website, please click here. You can follow her on Twitter: @donnafenn.



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