We have all come across that elder sibling, or the boss’s wife, who demands that you fall in line, because of their assumed superior status. The people at the receiving end chaff and churn, or stage a rebellion to cope with their oppressive behaviour.
The behaviour can be summed up as follows (Source: psychologytoday.com)
You expect other people to be more interested in you and what’s on your agenda than you’re interested in them and what’s on their agenda. You see your own interests as more interesting than other people’s, and see your goals/dreams as more valid or important than other people’s.
Entitlement Mindset manifestations
In a politico-socio-economic context, we come across the following controversial issues:
- Demand for reservations in education and employment.
- Political appointments based on alignment, not capability.
- Trade union movements.
- Demand for continuation of perquisites after the end of an active working life.
Then, the issues spilt over to the corporate scenario.
- Young and inexperienced employees claiming higher responsibilities and benefits based on their ‘premier degrees’.
- Older employees claiming benefits based on ‘seniority’.
- Bosses who claim a promotion or raise, based on the performance of their team, where their own contribution is not clearly established.
- Leaders who refuse to vacate their positions, despite serious charges being levelled, and legal cases filed against them.
- High-handed behavior of the ‘coterie’ or ‘inner circle’, based on their proximity to power.
- Indignation of business founders who have lost their relevance in the current scenario.
- The ‘loyalists’ who feel left out, if capability is rewarded.
- People demanding higher compensation, based on their last pay package.
- Narcissistic bosses.
- Disguised entitlement, where circumstances are built up to make a favorite look competent, and others are denied a platform or a fair deal.
- Total disregard for rules and regulations.
- In-your-face statements saying “We will do it, because we can.”
- ‘Take it or Leave it’ positions adopted by higher-ups.
Psychological issues or Power games?
Entitlement issues are ‘acquired traits’, some of which may be too complex for a psychologist to reverse. A privileged childhood is only one of the causes for these manifestations in adult life.
“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”
― Margaret Thatcher
Several events and success stories have proved that those who know how to play the game, do not run out of other people’s money. It is not always a delusion based on self-importance and laziness, but a well thought out strategy. The issue revolves around deep-rooted insecurity, a fear of competition and ‘Offence is the best defence’ approach.
- The underlings in a set-up have realized that they will be swept out, unless they adopt an aggressive stance.
- Non-performers find some other justification to be rewarded.
- The employee wants to be rewarded for ‘efforts’, if the goals were not achieved. These goals could have been unrealistic performance targets imposed on them, without the market situation or internal limitations being taken into consideration.
- The employee has ‘obliged’ the bosses in some other manner, than performance on the job. They expect a consideration in return.
- An employee asking for basic respect, is unjustifiably attacked for having entitlement issues.
- An aggressive boss blames an employee of having ‘entitlement issues’, only to divert attention from his own stance.
- A culture of negotiating for a raise, with the help of an appointment letter from another company, is encouraged by higher-ups. Performance and capability are consequently relegated to the backyard.
The Invisible Boundary Line
There is a very thin line between entitlement, a fair compensation, expectations built up in a particular culture and a blatant ‘Might is Right’ power grab.
Society and institutions do carry a responsibility for people who have devoted their lives to national honor – like defence personnel, national level sportsmen, scientists and freedom fighters. They also owe opportunities to the downtrodden, who have been kept out of the national mainstream, for no fault of theirs. This is essential for overall development of a nation, else the weaker sectors will keep neutralizing development in other sectors. The crux lies in identification of the genuine ‘underprivileged and backward’.
Entitlement is unfortunately, used by the ‘haves’ for aggrandisement of power and associated benefits. The term needs to used very carefully by examining the context.
Today, the biggest challenge we must meet is the one we present to ourselves. To not become a nation that places entitlement ahead of accomplishment. To not become a country that places comfortable lies ahead of difficult truths. To not become a people that thinks so little of ourselves that we demand no sacrifice from each other.