Karin’s Leadership Articles

Entitlement Calls For Great Leadership

by | Apr 5, 2013 | By Karin Hurt, Employee Engagement & Energy |

Entitlement is thirst for leadership. Entitlement builds over years. You can stop it.

Selfish words deceive.

  • “It’s not in my job description”
  • “That’s not what the contract says”
  • “My shift is over”
  • “I did what the customer asked”
  • “Why did that team get tee-shirts?”
  • “Seriously, they call this recognition?”

Listen deeply for pain, dissapointment, and fear.

 “Fixes” That Drive Entitlement

Before fixing, listen more. Attempt to solve the surface complaints, and aggrevate the deeper pain.

1. “Better” Recognition: “Something must be wrong with our rewards.” Form a committee. Ask the people what they most want. A well-intentioned and potentially useful approach in the right scene. Not if entitlement is your problem. More just reinforces “this for that.” (see, Why Doesn’t My Team Feel Recognized)

2. Benchmarking Communications: “Our rewards are great, employees just don’t understand them.” Create glossy benchmarking brochures. Share market analysis. Show how much we spend on healthcare. If it’s really about the money, this may help. Entitlement is seldom about the money.

3. Straight talk: “They should feel lucky to have a job in this economy.” Enough is enough. The paycheck is their reward. Performance manage those who don’t comply. We need to hire better. Truth in all that. Such talk won’t change culture.

Don’t Fix, Listen

Stop talking about the money. Don’t fix your recognition. Listen instead. Grasping for tangible rewards is a sign of a deeper hunger.

Look for signs of…

  • Weak vision
  • Inconsistent values
  • Betrayed trust
  • Broken promises
  • Overwork
  • Depersonalization
  • Fear
  • Insecurity
  • threatening leadership
  • ?

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Eric Dingler

    Great post. The things we feel entitled to we will never have gratitude for. Keeping entitlement out of an organizations culture is critically important to the longterm health of the organization. Great list of things to watch for.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Eric, thanks so much for bringing in talk of gratitude. So, so important.

  2. Stan Faryna

    “Listen deeply for pain, dissapointment, and fear.”

    Beautifully put. In fact, a servant leader listens. And they listen beyond the face value of words for the things that move in the human heart. And that must include expectations.

    I have found that often the pain, disappointment and fear may have deeper roots in the individual’s story and past – personal and/or professional. Poverty, trauma and lack of education in the individual’s story can exacerbate issues. And expectations may be irrational on both sides of the table.

    Sometimes, the differences may be irreconcilable or change, untenable.

    But the important thing for the leader is to have looked at a problem from many sides. And looked with love.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Stan, so great to see you here. Thanks for joining the Let’s Grow Leaders conversation. You are absolutely right on. We often have no idea of the troubles people face behind closed doors. All that influences…. people are complicated. Great leaders support the whole person. Namaste.

  3. Christopher Avery

    Excellent excellent Karin. I love this: “Attempt to solve the surface complaints, and aggrevate the deeper pain.”

  4. letsgrowleaders

    Chris, thanks so much for your comment. So glad to have you join the conversation.


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