Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

Dealing with the Five Causes of Professional Jealousy

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Successful leaders learn to work with their subordinates to achieve mutual goals and objectives. However, in any organization there will be individuals who are jealous of the success attained by their leader. This jealousy often stems from their fear of personal failure. Leaders must recognize the threat these employees pose not only to the leader’s career, but also to the overall performance of the organization.

Jealousy in any form is not healthy: it is highly detrimental to the organization’s success. Jealous individuals are not team-oriented, as they are only concerned with their personal needs. The presence of such employees is counterproductive to leadership’s attempts to focus on the needs of all and accomplish mutual goals.

It is important for leaders to recognize the existence of professional jealousy and its impact on the success of the organization. Leaders cannot simply ignore individuals that harbor jealousy; they must work with each jealous employee to correct behaviors and to address and resolve the underlying problem.

There are many causes of professional jealousy. The most common are examined below, with techniques suggested for resolving each problem.

Related: Conflict is Inevitable With Persistent Resistance to Change

Status Quo

Some individuals resist change for a variety of reasons. In most cases, they become jealous as their power base is threatened by a transition in management styles, or they fear being subsequently exposed as incompetent.

Leaders must sit down with these individuals and have a frank discussion to get them to disclose the reasons behind their jealousy and resistance to change. To help resolve the situation, leaders should stress the extreme importance of teamwork in the accomplishment of mutual goals and objectives, with change being part of the equation. If individuals refuse to change, their behavior will become increasingly obvious as the organization moves forward. Ultimately, they will be compelled to change or forced to leave the organization. So, before the process plays out, leaders can personally help struggling employees achieve their personal goals by offering suggestions to allay any major concerns that are responsible for their jealousy.

Related: Eight Strategies for Handling Disruptive Situations

Credit

Some people become jealous when others receive credit for their accomplishment. In such instances, the jealous individual often engages in immature and damaging behavior.

Quality leaders aren’t concerned with others getting the credit for a job well done. In correspondence with superiors, a leader will usually give all credit to his or her team. Leaders should, however, make it a point to bolster the success of other managers. This technique works to reduce some feelings of inadequacy that lead to jealousy.

While it is often difficult to deal with immature individuals, leaders must invest the time to discuss any concerns and then attempt to broker an agreement to resolve pressing issues. If these individuals remain irrational, their behaviors will eventually expose their lack of leadership qualities.

Related: Do Institutionalized Management Practices Create Formidable Obstacles to Change?

Resources

Some managers can be jealous of another manager’s success because they fear the successful manager will be apportioned a higher amount of limited corporate resources, such as staff, funds and materials.

Leaders should talk with these individuals and work something out. A successful resolution of this issue will increase their department’s performance, which in turn will benefit the organization as a whole.

Advancement

Some managers are jealous of successful associates. They fear that they will be left behind as their successful coworkers are afforded additional opportunities for advancement.

In a competitive marketplace, these jealous individuals can be dangerous. Leaders should be willing to “go to bat” for another manager in front of senior management to highlight his or her accomplishments and contributions. This often diminishes personal animosity and jealousy between managers.

Related: Conflict is Inevitable With Persistent Resistance to Change

Personal Agenda

Individuals can have a variety of personal agendas that will make them jealous of a successful leader. But there is no room for personal agendas in an organization transitioning into a leadership environment. As the organization changes its culture, individuals that lack a team spirit will be exposed and thus compelled to either abandon their personal agendas or vacate their position. Effective leaders will attempt to identify the root causes of these personal agendas and discuss them openly with these individuals to resolve them.

If you are seeking proven expertise and best practices of dealing with negative employee attitudes and behaviors to train or educate your employees to solve problems and improve their performance in this area, refer to Negative Employee Attitudes: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series.Click here to learn more.
________________________________________________________________________

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreward Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

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One Response

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  1. I like the article and thoughts overall and find them one-sided, which may have been intentional. However, I’d like to point out that the direction professional jealousy takes isn’t just upward in the chain, from subordinate to superior, it happens the other direction as well. I have seen leaders with a tenuous (perceived or real) grasp on their own positions, abilities, seem to behave as if “jealous” of subordinates who excel in their positions and project their fear onto the other by suggesting that they are envious, jealous, ambitious even (as if that were a bad thing). These leaders then maintain a Status Quo with the subordinate ensuring that they are kept in “their place”. Giving credit indirectly tempered with a hint of sarcasm, or pointing out deficiencies at the same time. Limiting resources to minimize further or temper acknowledgement of accomplishments, and since they are in control of advancement, forget it. That said, my preference for addressing the direction of perceived jealousy described above would be to acknowledge the competence and ideas of the employee aspiring to achieve, improve, perform. For heaven’s sake there are plenty of employees that could use a bit of ambition. Use the energy to facilitate improvement, cater to the strengths of the employee, leadership doesn’t have to rest in an individual, it can be nurtured at all levels of an organization. I want people to aspire to my position, responsibilities, to become leaders, that pushes me to be better and would free me up to pursue other professional goals. If the jealousy or ambition truly takes a turn toward sabotage and is detrimental to organizational achievement, then you move to mitigate the damage, manage the individual, and get them back on track.

    Russell

    July 10, 2012 at 9:19 am


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