No leader begins their journey with the words: “I want to become a leader, so I can feel overwhelmed.” Or, “I want to become a leader because I love feeling exhausted.” Or, “I want to become a leader, so I can lose sleep at night.”
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happens to most of us.
To followers, leadership frequently looks quite glitzy. It appears to be about authority, power, budgets and making things happen. And while it may involve each of these words, at its essence, it is about giving your authority to others, offering your power to your team (ever heard of empowerment) or dividing the budget for others to use, not you.
Author Simon Sinek said, “The cost of leadership is self-interest.” We lose the right to be selfish.
What Works Against You as a Leader?
There are attitudes that prevent us from flourishing as a servant-leader. When we give into these attitudes, we cease practicing life-giving leadership. They creep into our minds because we’re not ready to be unselfish. After all, we have rights. We’re only human. We can only take so much from these people.
1. Resentment: You begin to regret that you took on this role and begrudge the people around you. You become bitter and harbor hard-feelings about your situation.
2. Entitlement: You begin to feel you deserve perks and benefits for the disadvantages you’ve put up with; you assume others don’t realize how hard you work or sacrifice.
These two attitudes commonly reside together, and they feed off each other. When you feel resentful about something wrong on your team, it breeds a sense of entitlement that you deserve better. When you feel entitled to a perk or a different situation, you often begin to feel resentful that you don’t have it. It’s a vicious cycle.
What Causes Resentment or Entitlement in Leaders?
- Over-extension for long periods of time.
Your time and energy are taxed, and it becomes the norm in your schedule.
- Pushing people instead of leading them.
Instead of encouragement and example, you rely on manipulating people to go faster.
- Personal agendas come before the mission.
You begin working for personal gain and recognition, exploiting others to get ahead.
- Short-term results are valued over long-term health.
Your decisions target short-term goals at the expense of long-term objectives or health.
- Fear becomes a primary motivator.
You stop leveraging wisdom or strategy to incentivize folks, but instead you use fear of what may occur if they don’t succeed.
These are all warning signs—and the worst one is, you stop heeding any warning signs.
Four Responses to Resentment and Entitlement for You
1. Note your current anger levels and identify the source.
Negative emotions often begin with anger. What is the source? Do you see this pattern?
- Anger: I’m not getting my way today.
- Fear: I won’t get my way tomorrow.
- Resentment: I didn’t get my way yesterday.
2. Refuse to be a victim of your past.
When you give in to resentment or entitlement, you begin playing the victim card, and that prevents you from staying in control of your life. Isabel Lopez said, “I came to understand that in harboring the anger, the bitterness and resentment towards those that hurt me, I was giving the reins of control over to them.”
3. Replace old memories by creating new ones.
Remembering negative experiences holds you hostage. The quickest way to overcome this and become liberated is by pursuing positive relationships and experiences. It works like habits—you can’t get rid of old ones unless you replace them with new ones.
If love creates butterflies in your stomach,
Resentment creates wasps in your memory.
4. Choose gratitude over any negative emotion you spot.
I have found that focusing on all the good fortune I’ve received, that I didn’t deserve, causes my resentment or entitlement to evaporate. Gratitude turns what we have into enough. And it compounds. Zig Ziglar said, “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more like you’ll have even more to express gratitude for.”
Today’s youngest generation should be observing leaders who refuse to let resentment and entitlement master them. Let’s be leaders worth following.