Entitled Leadership

I am mid-flight from Minneapolis to Seattle. I am enjoying every minute of this flight. I travel a lot and today was fortunate to get the upgrade – 3A! Certainly makes the flight more enjoyable. Leg room. Hot coffee. Free Wi-Fi. Rock Star style en-route to Seattle! Thank you Delta!

To some degree my excitement for the upgrade was proportionate to my expectation. There was no expectation. If it happens, it happens. That is new.

There was a time in the not so distant past that I expected to be in first class.


I was entitled.

Not good.

My sense of entitlement made me a less effective leader. Less compassionate. A bit short sighted. Perhaps at times even a bit challenged to connect in a genuine, authentic and meaningful way.

Entitled Leadership is a very common syndrome. It is an occupational hazard. Blend a little talent, tenure, the corner office and country club life that comes with it and it is easy to enter the entitlement zone.

It isn’t really about first class or coach. It is really about the difference between entitlement and appreciation.

The margin of difference between appreciation and entitlement really comes down to awareness, attitude and approach.

Unfortunately, entitled leadership can significantly diminish employee engagement and the passionate connection to the organizational purpose that drives performance.

If you want to be a leader that others want to follow consider this approach:

Expect nothing. Earn everything. Every minute. Everyday.

When you demand that of yourself it is much easier to ask and expect it of others.

Earning ‘followership’ is the mark of leader.

You can’t earn it with tenure or title.

You can earn it through consistent, quality actions.


3A is nice. It isn’t necessary or all that important.

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