If entitlement is a disease, Dr. John Townsend, best-selling author of The Entitlement Cure: Finding Success in Doing Hard Things the Right Way, says that the antidote is "the habit of doing what is best rather than doing what is comfortable to achieve a worthwhile outcome." Those who wait for life to come to them are entitled and ultimately are not successful.
1. Smash silos
Working in silos (or in the absence of a team) can produce the feeling that success happens independently and thus cultivate an attitude of entitlement in the individual. Finding ways to get people collaborating, brainstorming, working, and playing together helps erode entitlement.
2. Own failure
Company cultures and leaders that own failure are positioned well to stamp out entitlement. After a failure, non-entitled leaders and employees will ask themselves, "What did I do to contribute to this?" and, "What could I have done differently?" Pride is an early indicator of entitlement. Leaders must model the behavior of pointing fingers at themselves more than at others.
3. Seek agreement
Russell B. Lemle, PhD, an associate clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco, writes, "Entitlements are unilateral. We award them to ourselves. By contrast, agreements are jointly consented, arrived at together. Researchers have confirmed that [relationships] flourish when both parties feel they have a voice in decisions."
Seek agreements that are good for the individual and for the organization.
Lemle recommends four actions to find more agreement in relationships...
- Learn to tolerate frustration. The normal reaction when we don't get our way is discomfort. Sitting with that feeling, rather than immediately acting to end it, enables us to connect with [the other person].
- Make a request instead of demanding compliance. Ask once; if you get no for an answer, modify the request.
- Remember that what we want is a personal preference--not a right. Inquire about [the other person's] wishes and put them on par with your own.
- Be flexible and strive for compromises that are amenable to both parties.
Lemle explains, "Wanting our way is not the same as being entitled to our way. Though we may feel a strong imperative how something should go, we must ensure that [the other person] has equal input. If we impose our position, we deny the legitimacy of [the other person's] experience and encroach upon his/her autonomy."
4. Reinforce responsibility
Read this to understand how to implement this strategy.
5. Model servant leadership
To stamp out entitlement in ourselves and in emerging generations, leaders must practice servant leadership.
According to Robert K. Greenleaf, author of The Servant as Leader, servant leadership is the philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations, and ultimately creates a more just and caring world. "The servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first," says Greenleaf.
A servant leader prioritizes the needs of others first. A servant leader always asks the question, "Why don't I?" instead of, "Why don't they?" As famed author Simon Sinek puts it, "Leaders eat last."
It's up to leaders to expect more, to raise the lid of Millennials' potential by modeling servant leadership so that Millennials are equipped to model it for Generation Z.
4 Entitlement-Ending Phrases to Communicate to Millennials
- Don't demand a voice, earn a voice. Before making demands, make an effort. Give your effort, help, and support without expecting anything in return.
- Be content but never satisfied. Be humble, yet confident. Be grateful, yet hungry.
- Prioritize marinating over microwaving. The most rewarding and strongest careers, skills, and expertise are built slowly and steadily. Persevere with patience.
- Do your best and forget the rest.
(Discover more generational strategies in Ryan's new book, The Millennial Manual: The Complete How-To Guide to Manage, Develop, and Engage Millennials at Work.)