Entitlement is the belief that you have the right to something; that it is due and should be given. You don’t need to do anything to earn it; you deserve it.
Here are five entitled leader traps to avoid when running your own business:
1. Expecting respect without giving it first. Someone once said that respect can only be given. While that is true, the bigger point is that it is rarely given to the undeserving. Respect is about your character and ability, not your position or status. I can’t count how many successful people I know who think their success in business entitles them to respect, regardless of how they treat others. Someone might acknowledge your accomplishments, but you don’t deserve his or her respect. You need to earn it.
Steve Jobs, brilliant visionary that he was, wasn’t known to always treat people well. He often berated and belittled them. His success was respected, but his treatment of others was often feared. How much greater might is legacy have been had he focused on both process and people?
2. Needing adulation. If your ego needs constant praise, you’re facing more than a business issue. I know an entrepreneur who had an out-sized talent for creating business opportunities and an out-sized need for adulation to match. He interpreted anything less than awe for him and his abilities as a personal slight. Not surprisingly, he burned through a lot of employees and even business partners.
3. Demanding sacrifices from others. Rational people are willing to sacrifice when necessary for compelling reasons. But they trust that the sacrifice will be appropriately acknowledged.
A manufacturing company faced a business downturn and asked employees to make sacrifices in pay and benefits. The employees agreed. When business got better and earnings were up, those rewards — in large part due to past employee sacrifice — were never shared. The employees felt betrayed and morale took a big hit.
4. Not showing employees you can be trusted. Management guru Tom Peters was once asked how to gain employee trust. His answer was short and classic: be trustworthy. If you can’t be trusted, your employees would be sheep to place their confidence in you.
5. Expecting employees to treat you like a true friend. You can treat you employees like friends, but don’t expect them to be actual friends. The kind of energy, chemistry and emotional bonding required for true friendship is significant. Neither you nor your team has time to be each other’s friends. Sure you can be colleagues you like, but unless you use the term “friend” very loosely (and many do) don’t expect friendship just because someone works with you.
In life, you see what you’re focused on, find what you’re looking for and get back what you give out. Entitlement on the leader’s part fuels entitlement on the part of employees. Put out the kind of effort and attitude you expect from others and you’ll be far more rewarded at the end of the day.