The Danger of Entitlement
By Nathan Jamail
Entitlement is one of the most harmful activities a leader can do to another person. The difficulty, as far as discernment goes, is that it is usually done out of love or caring for others. For example, a child could be considered entitled when they get rewards for unearned behaviors- in this case, as parents we want to protect and help our kids so we remove all of the obstacles in front of them with the intention to make their lives better than ours. We say things like we don’t want them to suffer or experience situations like we did. But when we do that, we tend to make them weak and we don’t build their courage or strength- which can ultimately harm their future. We must remember that our struggles, our obstacles are what made us the strong adults we are today. The same is true as leaders.
As leaders we want to be a leader that helps our employees and like our children, we want to remove obstacles for them and make their job easier. In business, unlike our kids, we tend to give more entitlements to those employees that have been with us the longest, and we do it because we feel they have ‘earned’ it. An example of this is when we start removing expectations as they work for us; with each year we decrease the expectations and responsibility of the employee.
In a recent conversations with several leaders I have discovered the proof of this belief. Lynne, a great leader in business today, told me that she finds it interesting that the expectations she tells applicants that will be required from them if they come to work for her organization is much higher than those that have worked for her for years. In fact she said, “My most tenured employees don’t meet the expectations I give the applicants”. Crazy right! So, why? Simple- as leaders we become afraid that if we push our employees they would quit or rebel. Lynne is not alone in this belief. Like entitling our children, leaders justify it as the the employees have earned it!
When leaders entitle their employees they stop pushing them. They stop challenging them and in turn the employees become complacent and sooner or later the hungry employees will start to look for a new challenge. Leaders that entitle their employees take away their purpose and their power, leaving them just doing a job and no longer growing.
Don’t entitle those you love or lead: Empower them, not by leaving them alone or removing obstacles and struggles. Empower them by challenging them, hold them to a higher standard than the new people, not just in results, but in activity, preparation, discipline, growth and passion for going beyond in their efforts! The longer we work for an organization- we should not work less, rather we should prepare and produce more. As leaders the best way we can help those we lead is to coach them, challenge them to step it up; even when they are doing well. By not entitling people, we give them the respect and the responsibility they deserve.