Leading with a sense of entitlement


Whether you are a manager, leader, or employee, having a sense of entitlement can be damaging to your career. It can be the start of a slippery slope which invariably ends in a hasty exit – being removed or fired from a previously respected position.

With the person’s name and reputation tarnished – regardless of the results they have achieved – unanswered questions, doubt, mistrust, a sense of shame and embarrassment typically arise for many including staff, organization, and family members.

In using the word entitlement, I am not referring to certain benefits we all have as per legal, contractual, or fundamental moral rights.

But more, the privileged sense that comes through one’s role and place in society, organization or political life, where one gets used to a level of position, power, privilege, and perks.

What I am addressing here is the egotistical and entitled thinking where “who I am” (an important person!) takes precedence over “what I do” (how I perform) and “what I can get away with” especially when transparency is lacking.

Organizational culture change

A sense of entitlement typically emerges in organizations when there is a call for massive structural and cultural change. With such impending changes, employees can feel challenged.

If there has been a culture of entitlement in the organization – such as a celebrity culture or where an organization has been a dominant player or market leader – the loss of entitlement hits even harder.

Employees and managers alike can experience pain and discomfort as they come to terms with a new standard and benchmark of doing things, a different set of values and emerging culture.

Where there has been a culture of entitlement, the pervasive expectation is for things to continue as they have been.

A sense of entitlement embodies within it an unquestioning “as of right” attitude, belief and behaviour – “I have always had it this way, I deserve it, and it should be mine.”

Leadership role

A sense of entitlement is present when a person in a position of power and privilege justifies their “crossing the line” such as infidelity, using work funds for personal reasons such as holidays or gambling and abusing a power relationship in some way.

A typical justification here can be, “I work hard enough; I am allowed to have some fun and that it is part of the leadership role.

When the line gets crossed, executive or not, career derailment is just around the corner.

Our unconscious bias

Our sense of entitlement – conscious or unconscious – can blind us to what we need to pay attention to and to what is going on around us.

A sense of entitlement often goes hand in hand with narcissistic personalities and arrogance. Conversely, empathy – the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes – tends to be low.

As one astute leader put it, “Entitlement sets in when a leader has been in the job too long. They also get more and more autocratic and cynical about people in their organization.”   It takes emotional courage for a leader to move on after some considerable years at the helm.

If you are coming from a place of entitlement, it can be hard to see what the fuss is about. It’s like fish in water – it’s hard to see anything else as this is the only known and pervasive reality.

Some people experience a sense of privilege and make much of their exceptional physical or intellectual attributes – yet these too change over time.

A sense of unconscious entitlement can be a privilege for those in a power position, such as being from the dominant culture.

It can be challenging when things change and it leaves one clinging to their sense of entitlement. Anger – a common reaction can take the form of, “how dare you…” or passive aggressiveness – “I will get you” or resistance in some other way.

Leadership Lesson

Given the engrained and automatic nature of a sense of entitlement, what is the lesson here?

The wise approach is to watch out and catch yourself when you are coming from a sense of entitlement.

This awareness may come in the form of an opposing viewpoint or feedback from a manager, colleague, caring friend, or loved one – if they can see what is going on.

Pay attention to where you may be tempted to cross the line or experience a strong sense of entitlement.

If you don’t pay attention and take the right action, long term, it could seriously harm your career.

To raise your awareness here, you could also make a note of the things you take for granted and have a sense of privilege and entitlement about.

A great question to ask is, “How might this look from the outside?” Fairness is a good abiding principle to be mindful of.

Or “How might I feel if I was on the receiving end of what I see as my sense of entitlement and the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours that go with that?” Remember the golden rule!

If your moral compass is giving you a negative signal, however weak, then it is time to step back, re-think things and talk to someone you trust.

Be willing to have your opinions and world view tested from time to time.

Life is a great leveler, and one thing is for sure – the very things we hold on to with dear life are precisely the things where we get tested and challenged.  And this is where our growth edge lies.


P.S. If you would like to read more articles by me, you can also follow me as per above or sign here for your free monthly newsletter for further articles on careers, leadership, personal and professional development. 

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The Coaching Event Not to be Missed!

The WBECS Pre-Summit officially opens its doors today… And they’re kicking off the event with a selection of speakers that you will love.

Check out the Pre-Summit speaker line up and grab yourself a seat before they are gone.

Would recommend registering for their annual no-cost, and highly acclaimed Pre-Summit to learn from 40+ of the industry’s top experts. Reserve your seat for the free speaker sessions today.

Their Summit offers pure value!

You can expect powerful coaching techniques and the latest developments in our industry. You’ll discover innovative tools and wisdom covering a broad variety of coaching disciplines. And you can be certain that any live class you attend is 100% worth your time.

Let us learn from some of the best thought leaders in the world together!


P.S. If you would like to read more articles by me, you can also follow me as per above or sign here for your free monthly newsletter for further articles on careers, leadership, personal and professional development. 

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How Jacinda Ardern Sets a New Global Benchmark for Leadership and Why We Should Pay Attention

One of the criticisms I’ve faced over the years is that I’m not aggressive enough or assertive enough, or maybe somehow, because I’m empathetic, it means I’m weak. I totally rebel against that. I refuse to believe that you cannot be both compassionate and strong.”  Jacinda Ardern

There is so much written and discussed about what good leadership is.

Ultimately though, whatever the context, leadership is as leadership does.    And nothing demonstrated this as well as the authentic and emotionally intelligent leadership of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern the last few weeks.

In the wake of the horrendous terrorist act and the massacre of 50 people innocently going about their daily life which at that moment was praying at their local mosques, one thing that did shine through and united us was the inspirational leadership of our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.

What happened that Friday fifteenth of March left New Zealanders feeling shocked, personally and nationally attacked and moved beyond words, “How could this happen here?”

Our unsuspecting little paradise at the bottom of the world had been subjected to the horrors that other countries had endured many times and we had now lost that innocence. We were in a state of pure disbelief.

During these dark days of shock, unfathomable loss and despair, Jacinda Arden’s vision, values and genuine words of comfort and connection pulled everyone together.

So, what made our PM’s leadership stand out and touch so many?  This even more so in the current global context where some other leaders are driving and deepening the fears and divisions based on “us and them.”

Here are some of the signature strengths, qualities and values that she embodied in the handling of this tragedy which got the attention of people globally:

  • Empathy– She felt and connected with the pain of the victim’s families along with the Christchurch residents who had already been through so much already with the earthquakes along with New Zealand’s pain. These were not just empty words. The image of her giving comfort as she hugged a victim’s family member with a boy in her arms still resonates powerfully.
  • Compassion– Her kind, compassionate and “ego-less” approach to handling this terrorist attack has reverberated through the entire world. Her authentic approach conveys heart and care.  It is such a refresher from how politicians generally act and speak.
  • Fronting up– The PM availed herself and was on the ground the very next day meeting the families in their sorrow. This was followed up with further visits including mosques and vigils in other cities as well.
  • Cross-cultural awareness and sensitivity– She put on a hijab like it was second nature – a respectful singular act which spoke volumes; the image reverberating across the globe including being projected on to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world in United Arab Emirates.
  • Decisiveness– She acted fast and almost within 48 hours she had declared that there was going to be a ban on the semi-automatic rifles which the terrorist had used. She later announced that a Royal Commission of inquiry was to be held about how the intelligence and security agencies had handled the situation leading to the events.
  • Composure, dignity and grace– She demonstrated grave sorrow while at the same time remaining calm and composed. At the National Remembrance Day today, with over 25,000 attendees, she spontaneously received a standing ovation.
  • Values based leadership Integrity– A very important point is that all of her above responses and behaviours did not that just get “turned on” but remain a true reflection of her authentic leadership. That is who she fundamentally is – she leads with her core values that she believes and lives by.
  • Vulnerability – She was not afraid to show her vulnerability – her sense of devastation and deep loss and being moved close to tears on occasions.Her face with the hijab said it all.  When asked by a student at a Christchurch school how she was feeling, her response was, “I’m very sad.”
  • Language– The PM used words that were inclusive, comforting and also clear. Her powerful speech included the following  … “This is not us. Many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities — New Zealand is their home — they are us. The terrorist is not us. He chose us but we did not choose him. You will never hear me mention his name.”  Powerful stuff that pulled us together and united us.

Through it all, Jacinda Ardern has highlighted a new blueprint for leadership – that leadership and politics can be done differently.

That care, compassion and kindness can be strongly partnered with strength, decisiveness and unity.

She has set a new benchmark for leaders everywhere to re-think things and step out of the fixed mind-set of “business as usual.”  Will others follow?

Here’s  one  analysis which  lays out the necessary  steps. It’s from  Guardian writer  Suzanne Moore who wrote:

Ardern has moulded a different consensus, demonstrating action, care, unity. Terrorism sees difference and wants to annihilate it. Ardern sees difference and wants to respect it, embrace it and connect with it. 

Here is an agnostic showing that love will dismantle hate. This is leadership, this light she shines, guiding us though to a world where we see the best of us as well as the worst.


Image: The Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern speaking at the National Remembrance Day in Christchurch on 29 March, 2019.

Download your brief leadership development action guide here.


P.S. If you would like to read more articles by me, you can also follow me as per above or sign here for your free monthly newsletter for further articles on careers, leadership, personal and professional development. 


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An Invitation to All Coaches: Learn about Narrative Coaching

If you are a coach or have some interest in coaching – you will not want to miss out on this!

Next week, Dr. David Drake is offering 2 final immersion trainings on Narrative Coaching at no cost and there are still some seats available.

To register, simply click one of the links below and choose the session that suits your schedule:

March 12th, 2019 – 10am ET

Register for the session here

March 13th, 2019 – 6pm EST

Register for the session here

In the workshop, David shares his insights into a holistic, experiential coaching process that helps you to uncover, understand and change what drives human behavior. You will see how to work with your clients in a deeper, more meaningful way and how to create change that lasts far beyond your coaching session.

“One of the best coaching webinars that I have ever attended. And I have been a coach for over fifteen years now. Unbelievable levels of generosity and meaningful sharing. Thank you!” – Siddharth N.

“I feel I can breath more easily already, a breath of fresh air not to focus on goals first when clients are already in overwhelm. So helpful, thank you!” – Kizzy H.

Excited to dive in? I look forward to hearing your thoughts afterward!

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Looking back to look ahead….

How quickly 2018 passed, Time  now to pause, look back, reflect and ask what your priorities will be in the brand New Year!

Personally  I‘ve looked at the gains and achievements of the past year.  From that  I’ve also  tried to  find, and focus on a theme for the year ahead. There’s already an element here which needs more priority  – and it lies in the simple but neglected word,  gratitude.

Albert Schweitzer  put it like this “…at times our own light goes out and is re-kindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

Gratitude is a pillar of positive psychology and has a direct correlation on our own feelings of positivity and well-being. It helps maximize the potential benefits of positive experiences and emotions on our lives.

Research on the concept shows that people, who are more grateful have higher levels of subjective well-being are less stressed, less depressed and more satisfied with their lives and relationships.

We feel more optimistic, have lower blood pressure, have more positive thoughts and a robust immune system and are more compassionate and forgiving.

Our resourcefulness and capacity  is also believed to expands when we are in a more positive frame of mind and we are better able to deal with life’s challenges.

Gratitude is also about what we give – not just receive  – and this could not be better highlighted than during this festive season when giving and gratitude go hand in hand.

Wishing you and your family a safe, enjoyable and fulfilling Christmas and New Year!

Warm regards

P.S Image taken with the friendly  Skycity gnome! 🙂


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How organisations can support people transitioning back to work

I was recently asked as to how organisations can best support people transitioning back to work. A key in helping people ease back into the work routine is flexibility.

The reasons for employee time out can be many, including – parental leave, accident or ill health, looking after family members with medical issues and or redundancy.

Organisations who provide flexibility in their support for people transitioning back to work can win, as can the employee, by making the difference between a successful or an unsuccessful transition.

Setting things right from day one is a great place to start. Continue reading

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Seven Ways Nature Reflects the Creative Process


I do love this time of the year.  Here, in the Southern Hemisphere, we have fully blossomed into Spring.

The colourful riot of flowers, the fresh lime leaves and the chirpiness of the birds is everywhere.

The Tuis – our New Zealand native birds  just love dangling from the branches – from any angle they can as they suck the juices out of the beautiful cherry pink blossoms, Kowhais and other garden plants.

After the cold, dark and weary winter, the contrast is significant including the bounce in people’s steps.

Seeing the lushness of the new during my walk this sunny afternoon, I began reflecting on how nature reflects the creative process.

1)  Cycles – the natural cycle of the seasons reflects the creative process. Sometimes our creativity is just flourishing and at other times it feels as if it has gone underground.

2)  Diversity – this season, more than others, highlights the diversity in nature with all the varied colours, shapes, sizes and smells of the different flora and fauna appearing together.

Creativity also emerges and thrives with diversity of thoughts and ideas.

3)  Smells– the heady perfume of jasmine and the gentle whiff of wisteria this afternoon was intoxicating under the strong sun.

Our feel good hormones and creative juices get aroused with certain smells, which are pleasing and/or have some previous positive memories associated with them.

4)  Happy accidents  – as per nature with the unplanned flowers and shrubs popping up in unexpected spots including the paved footpath – creativity also ‘pops up’ as we have that special  ‘ah ha’ realization at an unexpected time and place.

Nature frees our clogged up minds and lets our imagination roam free.

5)  Juxtapositions– this again mirrors the creative process, as it is the previously uncombined thoughts and juxtapositioning of ideas, which result in new insights and solutions.

Nature breaks the rules, as does the creative process in discovering new things.

6)  Giving shape – nature evolves organically with some input from us e.g. when we give shape to our gardens.

Creativity also thrives with our input – when we marshal our nascent thoughts and ideas into some form.

7)  Joy– last but not least, Spring lifts our spirit leaving behind sodden months, preparing us for sunshine – and hope.

Ultimately the creative process is a joyous one.




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How to Get the Best from Your Introverted Team Members

Introverted feeling types have a wealth of warmth and enthusiasm, but they may not show it until they know someone well. They wear their warm side inside, like a fur-lined coat.” – Isabel Briggs Myers

In our world, the externals including charisma and outgoing personalities get noted and praised starting right from our early school days.

For example, one teacher’s feedback, “Johnny is a confident, active and outgoing child.” On the other hand “Sarah is quiet and withdrawn and doesn’t easily mix with others.”

I wonder if we have an unconscious bias towards ‘quiet’ being seen as “less than” when compared to the more gregarious energetic personalities!

Okay – so we are who we are and here’s what we need to remember:

Both personality preferences – introversion and extraversion – have their strengths and challenges

As bosses, parents, teachers and community leaders, we need to be mindful that both the extroverted and introverted personality preferences have their own strengths as much as their challenges.

If we are aware of this, we can optimise performance and communication with our colleagues, direct reports, students and even the rebellious teenager, on some occasions!

“Well-developed introverts can deal ably with the world around them when necessary, but they do their best work inside their heads, in reflection. Similarly well-developed extraverts can deal effectively with ideas, but they do their best work externally, in action.” ― Isabel Briggs MyersGifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type

Team meetings

Let us look at team meetings where we spend a large chunk of our working time.

Introverted personalities tend to be quieter and not readily discuss their gems in meetings. While for the more extroverted types, speaking their minds or – their thoughts – as they get formulated – is not an issue.

The extroverted personality can come across as confident because they are never short on opinions or a willingness to say whatever is present for them in the moment. This is how they think….in talking it out.

On the other hand, those who are more introverted tend to be more quieter unless they feel really strongly about something and only then they might speak up.

However, when they do speak, they get peoples attention because more often than not, it has real substance and is well thought through.

‘Depth’ is a word that often gets used to describe a team member with introverted preferences.

To get the best from the more introverted team member show that you value their input by inviting them in and asking for their insights and perspective…and give them some time for reflection before reporting back!

Getting the best as their manager

You need to be conscious that they will not be easy initiators so you will need to draw them out by asking for their views.

If you have more introverted preferences yourself then you will naturally have more resonance and empathy here.

As a manager or leader you need to be aware that to get the best out of your more introverted team members (or family members for that matter), you also need to give them time to consider and process things on important agenda items so your asking does not put them on the spot.

While the typical extrovert’s claim of their more introverted team members is, “They do not say much in meetings” the introverts view when probed is, “It is hard to get a word in edge-wise!”

Doing round-robins in a team meeting which is basically doing a round in a circle where everyone gets to contribute their thought, feelings and ideas on the question/topic under discussion ensures that both personality types get to speak and therefore have equal air-time.

The introverted leader

We sometimes overlook the fact that we have just as many introverted as extroverted managers and leaders.

If you are a more introverted leader then know that you may have to make more of an effort to share information, be visible, initiate and express and give praise in ways that inspire and engage and builds a high performing team.

Doing team personality profiling is a great way of understanding your individual and team profile. It provides a common language and can take away a lot of unspoken tension and judgment amongst team members.

Learning about personality and team type is not only fun and helpful for improved work relationships but with family too.

Introversion and Influence

Regardless of our personality types, we all need to get our ideas communicated to those who matter.

If you have read this far, a question I am exploring currently and I would love to hear from you is:

If you identify yourself as more of an introvert, what helps you get your ideas heard and acknowledged with your key stakeholders?

Source:  For further reading, you may wish to look into books on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The work and tool was developed by Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers based on the work of Carl Jung.

Continue reading

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How Strong is Your Ethical Compass?

The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionable integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in the office. -Dwight D Eisenhower

As part of our leadership development course we focused on our ethical compass and how it guides our behaviour and decisions as leaders.

The Challenge

From time to time, in our personal and professional lives, we come across people and opportunities that seem engaging, exciting and worthy of further exploration.

Sometimes the best things in life are those we stumble upon or that seem to come quite serendipitously out of nowhere!  And indeed, explore we must.  NEW horizons and development only arise through venturing into the unknown, pushing the envelope and taking an “experimental” stance towards such invitations.

As the old saying goes, “if we do what we have always done, then we will get what we have always gotten!”

Some Probing Questions

At the same time, though, it is worth being mindful of the following questions to guide your explorations when confronted with a mixed/tempting situation: Continue reading

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Leadership Presence: Are you getting in your own way?

The struggle

Do you feel like you are ignored and overlooked at work considering all the effort you put in?

In a team meeting, even after you have said what you needed to get across, you feel you may as well have not been there?

You can’t help but notice that your suggestions get disregarded and yet when another team member offers the same input – good heavens!  Not only do they get acknowledged greatly but their idea also gets accepted.

Not surprisingly, you find yourself perplexed – scratching your head, wondering what happened and what it is that you are missing?

This has certainly been the experience of a few of my clients who have wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on.

If wanting ‘greater presence’ is something you would like, then read on!

What is Presence?

The Oxford Dictionary defines Presence as  “the state or fact of existing, occurring, or being present.” In the business arena, we also hear the word linked with leadership, influence and executive or personal presence.

We know what presence is when we walk into a room and immediately notice someone who has this in bucket loads and this even before they open their mouths.

And how much more powerful their presence gets felt when their message and its delivery,  their non-verbals like how they hold themselves and the way they communicate all coalesce into a bulls eye potency.

So what can you do to have greater presence?  Continue reading

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