Episode #17: Dysfunction of Entitlement

Let’s face it, employee entitlement is on the rise. And while this attitude is most noted in people between the ages of 18 – 35, everyone can operate from their own sense of entitlement. The last couple of generations were indeed raised to believe that they should always win, be rewarded, and recognized without really having to do much for it. As a result, many members of these generational cohorts have never learned to delay gratification, work through challenging situations, or tolerate disappointment.

Adding to the increase of employee entitlement is the fact that most leaders feel they are entitled to lead the way they want to, based on what works for them, without regard for how their behavior is affecting others. It makes it easy to see the double dose of entitlement issues start to take shape because it’s coming from both sides. Entitled leaders spend more time complaining about the behavior of entitled employees than they do reflecting on their own behavior. The Dysfunction of Entitlement is sort of a pot calling the kettle black situation, where leaders fail to lead and align employees to achieve business outcomes.

In today’s episode, Anne & Heather explore the Dysfunction of Entitlement and share some real client stories that illustrate just how common it is to find this type of leadership behavior in organizations today. They’ll also share some practical tips that you can use if the Dysfunction of Entitlement is causing your organization’s leaders and teams to allow their entitlements to get in the way of achieving business goals.

If you want to know more about Anne & Heather’s work with dismantling dysfunctions in organizations and leadership behavior at Caliber Leadership Systems, check out:




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  • [01:34] Episode introduction and overview
  • [02:40] What is the Dysfunction of Entitlement?
  • [07:03] Entitlement is not new
  • [11:15] How the business environment shapes entitlement
  • [15:24] Low Entitlement vs. High Entitlement
  • [25:03] The low entitlement leader freeze-up
  • [30:50] Moving away from blaming and finger pointing
  • [40:31] Episode gem & practical takeaway
  • [41:51] Episode wrap up



  • Entitled leaders and employees have a “what’s in it for me” or “just like me” attitude. High entitled employees have an inflated self-image and expect others to treat them as though they are special. They don’t feel they have to work hard to succeed and if they can find a way to get others to do their work, they will.
  • Low entitled leaders and employees give their power away to others, work harder than necessary, and compensate for the lower performance of others. And all entitled employees complain because they believe they are entitled to having things the way they believe they should be.
  • A high entitled leader can set the tone for many organizational dysfunctions, especially when there is a senior leadership group that is overly focused on themselves and their own agenda. When leaders have an “I” focus and aren’t striving with others to cultivate a “we” orientation to leading, they do things their way without regard for the impact on others.
  • Employees need guidance, effective leadership, and opportunities to grow and develop. They need to be respected, listened to, and appreciated for what they can contribute. They need their leaders to define expectations, give feedback, recognize success, and be honest about their capabilities. The entitled leader will judge an entitled employee to be immature or write them off because they don’t behave as we did at their age or in their role.
  • Too many leaders are permissive, acting like colleagues and cheerleaders, creating a mediocre workforce unprepared for the rigors of the career path they have chosen. They foster greater entitlement when they tell an employee that they are doing a “great” job for something as simple as sending an email. Leaders contribute to the idea employees are more competent than they actually are by using superlatives to describe their performance instead of providing them with clear expectations and giving descriptive feedback relative to the expectation.
  • Leaders must stop blaming high entitled employees and start developing the leadership skills necessary to strengthen authentic leadership entitlement. When they develop these skills, leaders can be more effective at dealing with poor performance and other challenging behaviors that contribute to their ability to ensure everyone’s success.


"Leaders suffer the consequences when they fail to tackle the performance gaps of their employees."
"Leaders are much more effective when they give employees what they actually need, instead of what they think they're entitled to."
"Entitled employees need to be weaned off immediate gratification and the addiction to praise and approval."
"High entitled employees with an inflated self-image expect others to treat them as though they're special."

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