How did you get where you are? I don’t mean how did you get to the coffee shop, your office, or your living room, I mean how did you get to where you are in your career? I started out by joining the US Navy after high school. I couldn’t figure out how to show up to work at all, much less on time when I did show up. That behavior resulted in many low paying jobs until I figured that I just needed to get out of Chicago. After the Navy, I got married and my wife convinced me I could go to college. I got a BS degree, then a Masters and now sit in the corner office as a C-level executive. That road was long and filled with encouragement from others until I could finally believe in myself. As you consider your road, there is undoubtedly people along that path who have encouraged you and helped you step out in faith onto a ledge that you were not sure you could handle. Where in a story where people have helped all along the way is there a place for a sense of entitlement? Where is there a space for the attitude that I deserve these things and that more should be coming? It seems kind of funny to think about but I believe that this sense of entitlement is the number one culture killer in any organization.
According to Urbandictionary.com someone who has the false sense of entitlement is someone who has the idea that one has a right to be given something which others believe should be obtained through effort. An article in Psychology today (Article) titled What Have You Done For Me Lately? Entitlement: A Key Narcissistic Trait states the following: “narcissistic entitlement has nothing to do with real self-worth; that is, the belief that one is worthy of accomplishments earned through hard work. Instead, the narcissist is like a small child who never learned she is not the center of the universe and throws tantrums when outsiders don’t meet their narcissistic demands.” Whichever description grabbed you more, I think we could agree that either mindset in an organization can be poisonous. There are perks that come with leadership. Sometimes it is parking, sometimes it is free meals, sometimes it is someone who brings you coffee, whatever it is, the idea that this is owed, can lead to severe dysfunction in a team.
- A sense of entitlement does not qualify an individual for anything. Just because you think you deserve something doesn’t mean you actually do.
- A sense of entitlement can create a thankless environment. If you as a leader cannot show gratitude, neither will your associates or team members.
- A sense of entitlement gives place to self promotion and self promotion gives place for a poverty mentality. A poverty mentality focusses on what someone doesn’t have rather than what they do have. Individuals will self promote to get whatever it is they do not have thinking this self promotion should entitle them to whatever it is they are wanting. This exercise is like pumping up a leaky bike tire, endless and futile.
Many of us have worked in an environment where we have heard a leader say, “I should get this thing, don’t you know who I am?” This is a culture killer. This attitude sucks the air out of the environment, it robs creativity, and kills engagement. The truth is though, as a C-level, it is oh so easy to slip into this. I am guilty for sure. What I try to do to help with this is to keep well grounded people around me who have permission to call me out on my behavior. Mentorship plays a big role in my life. My goal is to model a behavior of gratitude and that of honoring every individual, especially those who have encouraged me along the way. Consider where you would be if you really had to do it on your own, and is there even such a thing. At some point on the road, someone said something that shifted your thinking and helped you get past a hurdle. An attitude of gratitude wins every time over the misnomer that you are entitled to something just because of who you are.