Are you tired of all the stereotypes about middle children being overlooked, overshadowed, lazy underachievers? This middle child is! I set out to find proof to offer to my older and younger siblings, as well as the world at large, why middle children make great leaders.
They are skilled peacekeepers.
Middle children have a unique position in the family, being closer in age to both older and younger siblings. Often the eldest and youngest are separated by so many years that they have little in common. They may attend different schools and not live in the home together as long as either does with the middle sibling. The middle child often relates well with those both above and below them on the birth order ladder. These relationships make them perfectly poised to keep the peace in the family.
They are great negotiators.
Catherine Salmon, Ph.D. and co-author of The Secret Power of Middle Children, notes that middle children become good at negotiating due to their place in the family. She says that the firstborn is usually given more authority by the parents and, being older, they are often larger and stronger and use their size to get their way. The youngest often resort to whining as an effective way to get what they want. That leaves the middle child with fewer options, so he learns to figure out what others want and need, then devises a plan to meet those needs as well as their own.
These skills make middle children great leaders at work and serve them well when they have families of their own.
They are more willing to follow their passion.
Being sandwiched in between the expectations parents attach to a first born and the often coddled youngest children, the middle child is simply, the middle child. There are few preconceived notions about what the middle child should do or be, other than act as placeholder for the older and younger siblings. For that reason, many believe middles have more leeway to follow their passion. Bill Gates, a middle child with both an older and younger sister, definitely fits the bill of following his passion and forging his own way. Football star Peyton Manning, actress and singer Jennifer Lopez, singer Britney Spears are also notable middles following their passion and achieving great success. (Take that stereotype of middle children being lazy underachievers!)
They are willing to step into positions of power in order to create change.
Most people believe that firstborns hold more positions of authority. It makes sense if you think about how they have more power within the family because of their age and one might assume that would continue into adulthood. But did you know that more than half of U.S. Presidents were middle children, including John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt? Two notable change agents were also middles: Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr.
They are often nicer people.
According to preeminent birth-order researcher Frank Sulloway, author of Born to Rebel, middleborns often rank highest on agreeableness during personality tests. In today’s culture of connection and transparency, that serves a middle child well. Gone are the days where CEOs made the rules and everyone followed. Today’s society wants leaders they can trust and relate to – being agreeable is a great place to start!
If you are a middle child, stand tall! Don’t feel like your parents neglected you if you got a little less attention than your older or younger siblings. They were simply empowering you to forge your own path and become an amazing leader. Sometimes being underestimated and flying under the radar is a wonderful thing.
Featured photo credit: 11911-21/J.K. Califf via flickr.com