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May 23, 2018

How to be Resentful and Entitled

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How to become resentful and entitled

One of the destructive patterns we see in leaders and teams is the movement from obligation to resentment to entitlement. This is a well worn path that if not caught and corrected leads to all kinds of sludge in organizations.

Let’s break it down…

The pattern begins by doing something from obligation

The essence of obligation is “I have to.” I have to is one of the cornerstone mentalities of victim consciousness. In I have to, someone—myself included— or something is making me do it. I don’t have a choice.

I/We have to…

  • go to our marketing meeting tomorrow.
  • call on a disgruntled client this afternoon.
  • fill out my expense report.
  • respond to HR’s request to force rank our teammates.
  • go home and watch the kids tonight because my partner has a business meeting.
  • go to your parents on Saturday because it’s your brother’s birthday.
  • work out today.

A leader coming from victim consciousness is certain she has no choice and that she has to do it. I have countless conversations with leaders who want to convince me and others that they have to. Through the eyes of victim consciousness, the world is the way it is and there’s nothing I can do about.  

When I act from obligation I sow the seeds of resentment

If I come home and take care of the kids because I believe I have to so you can go to (yet another) business function, there is a good chance that I’ll begin to resent you. Resentment is a hardening of my heart, mind, and body toward anyone or anything that I believe is making me do something. It’s a natural response to believing I’m being forced by someone to do something I don’t want to do. If I work on Saturday because I have to in order to meet HR’s requirements for performance reviews by Monday there is a good chance I will resent whomever is “making” me do this. Resentment runs rampant in most organizations, sucking the life out of individuals, teams, and organizations.

But resentment is not the end of the process…

Next comes entitlement

Entitlement is a belief I hold with certainty that I have a right to. When we do things from obligation and harden into resentment our payback is our entitlement.

Entitlement can show up in many ways. Some examples...

“I’ve come home early the last three weeks on Tuesdays (out of obligation, because I had to) so you could work late at the office. I’m pissed off (resentful) and I deserve (am entitled) to play golf on Saturday and Sunday morning without you complaining about it.”


I had to go to dinner with clients so I could get the sale. I resent that my boss is not appreciating all of the extra time I put in with these late night dinners. I feel entitled to a bigger bonus for my extra hard work.


“I lied to our boss on your behalf (I had to because you screwed up) and now you owe me. You need to cover me with the legal department.

                       OBLIGATION     →     RESENTMENT     →     ENTITLEMENT

Conscious leadership begins by growing in self awareness. Use your awareness to ask the following questions:

  1. What am I currently doing from obligation?
  2. Who/what am I resenting because they are making me do it?
  3. How am I getting back at them by being entitled? What do I deserve because I have given so much?

Write your answers down and hold onto them. Let them sink in. Not to worry, we won’t leave you hanging too long. Next month's Going Deeper will cover the opposite and antidote to this pattern:


Read Part 2: The Antidote to Resentment and Entitlement

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