Five Signs You Might Be a Jealous Leader


The jealous are troublesome to others and a torment to themselves. – William Penn

From Moody’s Anecdotes comes a fable of an eagle which could out fly another, and the other didn’t like it. The latter saw a sportsman one day and said to him, “I wish you would bring down that eagle.”

The sportsman replied that he would if he only had some feathers to put into the arrow. So the eagle pulled one out of his wing. The arrow was shot, but it didn’t quite reach the rival eagle; it was flying too high. The envious eagle pulled out more feathers, and kept pulling them out until he lost so many that he couldn’t fly, and the sportsman turned around and killed him.

The moral of the story is not lost on good leaders and it serves as a good reminder about being a good sport. How you interact with your colleagues in your place of business or organization is essential to your success.

John D. Rockefeller said, “Good leadership consists of showing average people how to do the work of superior people.” It’s also showing that you can celebrate the successes and hard work of those around you without being jealous. Are you a jealous leader? It’s time for some honest soul searching. Here are five signs that might indicate you have a jealous streak.

You can’t be happy for someone else’s success.

When you find it hard to celebrate a colleague’s success this could be a red flag for you. It could be that you are resentful that they achieved a particular success that you haven’t or they attained it sooner than you did. It would be good to try and identify the root cause of these feelings and see if you can come clean about why you feel this way. A good leader should be out front celebrating the successes of his team because when one wins the whole team wins.

You have misplaced fears about your colleagues.

Jealousy has a way of elevating fears and suspicions. It causes you to buy in to the notion that everyone is against you and it causes you to question other people’s motives. This is a horrible posture for a leader. It renders your leadership ineffective and will ultimately cause more harm than good. Morale will be undercut. As a leader it is imperative to lead from a position of trust and loyalty. Misplaced fears will destroy both. The answer here is to step up communication and build solid relationships.

You are vindictive and a gossip.

Personal jealousy is one thing but professional jealousy can be devastating. Unfortunately, office politics is an issue that far too many have to contend with. A vindictive leader who uses his or her position to undermine the efforts, work, or reputation of another is certainly behaving like a jealous leader. To keep this type of jealousy from taking root is to put forth a shared vision and by exploiting the skills, talents, and resources of every team member. When a leader is elevating team members instead of tearing them down everyone wins.

You resent other people’s popularity.

This strikes a chord on a personal level for many leaders. After all, who doesn’t like to be liked? So when a colleague happens to stand out because of their magnetic personality it can touch a nerve with a jealous leader. A jealous leader wants to be the center of attention and is resentful of the competition and having to share the limelight. But leadership is not a popularity contest and shouldn’t be made one. A smart leader is content to let others shine and can appreciate all personalities that comprise his team.

You are possessive of information and resources others need to succeed.

The ultimate act of jealousy in your workplace or organization is exhibited by the leader who acts in vindictive ways against his or her people. It’s done by omission as much as it’s done by commission. It’s done by withholding information and resources that can cause them to move ahead and succeed. It’s the pulling out of the feathers like the jealous eagle and in the long run is a self-inflicting wound from which there is no recovery.

Be the type of leader that rises above jealousy to celebrate the achievements of those around you. Build a culture of trust and respect. Be comfortable in your own skin and delight in the success of your people. Life is too short to be so little.

What do you say?


© 2014 Doug Dickerson

I invite your feedback!

1. How have you seen the effects of jealousy in your place of work?

2. Have you identified any hot buttons of jealousy you need to work on?

3. What are some first steps you can take to keep jealousy from hurting your influence as a leader?


About dougdickerson

I am Certified Leadership Trainer, author, columnist, and speaker. Husband to Alicia, father to Katelyn and Kara, and "Pop" to terrific grandson Tyson. I am an avid photographer, love the outdoors, and like to travel. I'm passionate about sharing my leadership insights and helping people reach their full potential.
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2 Responses to Five Signs You Might Be a Jealous Leader

  1. lizstincelli says:

    Reblogged this on lizstincelli.


  2. CLEATHAM says:

    Interesting subject. It’s due to dominant personalities and this is common in life. The point you made about a leader who is not in the lime light has pressing issues because they want to dominate the situation. I have had issues similar to this: when coaching youth players and they preference one coach more than the other. This resulted in issues within the coaching team through disputes etc.

    Steps to decrease jealous behaviour: I would have to say, pressing the issues in a group setting (staff meeting). It’s a difficult subject because like you mentioned regarding a smart leader is the one who lets others shine and prosper. With this in mind, it could be said that if a leader lets others shine, they themselves could lose the ‘shine’ making one person looking better than other.

    Good read. Thanks


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