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The Harm of Entitlement

Some leaders fear that if they push their employees, they will quit or rebel

Nathan Jamail

employee entitlement

Entitlement is one of the most harmful traits a leader or parent can instill in another person. The real problem with entitlement is that it is usually done out of love or caring for others. When a child is entitled, they get rewards for unearned behaviors. Parents want to protect and help their kids, so they remove all the obstacles in front of them, and they do it with the intention to make their children’s lives better than their own. They say things like, “We don’t want them to suffer or experience pain like we did.” But when they do that, they are doing a disservice to their child. Their child does not learn how to problem-solve, cope with everyday disappointments, and rise to a challenge. They don’t build the child’s courage and strength.  Ultimately, they harm the child in a way that negatively affects their future. Parents must remember that their struggles and obstacles made them the strong adults they are today. The same is true for leaders.  

A leader wants to be a leader who helps their employees, and, like a parent, they want to remove obstacles for their employees to make their job easier. In business, unlike in parenting, they start to give more entitlements to employees who have been with them the longest. A leader does this because they feel the employee has earned it.   

An example of this is when a leader starts removing expectations each year an employee works for them.  As each year passes, the leader inadvertently decreases the expectations and responsibility of the employee based on the belief they have somehow earned this right.   

In recent conversations with several leaders, I have discovered the proof of this belief. Lynne, a great leader in business today, said that she finds it interesting that the expectations and requirements she sets forth for applicants if they come to work for her organization are much higher than the expectations and requirements for employees who have worked for her for years. In fact, she said, “My most tenured employees don’t meet the expectations I give the applicants.” Crazy, right!  So, why? Some leaders fear that if they push their employees, they will quit or rebel. Lynne is not alone in this belief. Like entitling children, leaders justify it because they feel the employees have earned it!             

When leaders entitle their employees, they stop pushing them. They stop challenging them, and, in turn, the employees become complacent. Sooner or later, the hungry employees start to look for a new challenge. Leaders who entitle their employees take away their employees’ purpose and power. Their employees are then just performing a job, and do not experience growth. When an employee becomes complacent and loses their purpose, they start to look for other places to fulfill the void. When this happens, everybody loses. 

A person should not entitle those they love or lead. They should empower them, and this is not accomplished by leaving them alone or letting them do it on their own. Leaders should empower their employees by challenging them and holding them to a higher standard than their new people, not just in results, but in activity, preparation, discipline, growth, and passion for going beyond in their efforts!  The longer a person works for an organization, they should not work less. Rather, they should prepare and produce more. Leaders should know that the best way they can help those they lead is to coach them, mentor them, and challenge them to step it up, even when they are doing well. By not entitling their employees, a leader gives them the respect and the responsibility they deserve. A leader must show their love, caring, and leadership by removing all of the entitlement beliefs, traits, and behaviors.           

About the Author

Nathan Jamail is author of the best selling Playbook Series, including his latest book “The Leadership Playbook.” Nathan is a top international motivational speaker and expert on Leadership and employee coaching. As a former executive director, business owner and sales professional, Nathan is an expert who teaches from experience. Nathan has helped thousands of great leaders become great coaches. You can find more information about Nathan at and follow him on