The Makings of a Jealous Leader


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

Dr. Gary Collins shares a story about Sir Walter Scott. For many years Sir Walter Scott was the leading literary figure in the British Empire. No one could write as well as he. Then the works of Lord Byron began to appear, and their greatness was immediately evident. Soon an anonymous critic praised his poems in a London Paper. He declared that in the presence of these brilliant works of poetic genius, Scott could no longer be considered the leading poet of England. It was later discovered that the unnamed reviewer had been none other than Sir Walter Scott himself!

Jealousy is one of those emotions that can cause much harm to your leadership and one that you must keep in check. It’s also an emotion that you must be willing to confront. Let’s be honest, at one time or another we’ve all had a bout with it. So what happens when you allow jealousy to enter into the DNA of your leadership style? What are the consequences and how can you stop it? Here are a few ways it might be impacting your leadership.

Signs of a jealous leader:

Jealousy makes you feel threatened

Jealousy materializes when you can resent the success of your peers rather than celebrate it. Instead of what is seen as a win for the team is a threat to one – you. Jealousy has an unflattering way of revealing motives and exposing serious leadership flaws. Jealousy reveals your insecurities, not your strengths.

Jealousy causes divisions

If left unchecked, jealousy leads to divisions and poses serious threats to the health and culture of your organization. The triggers can vary – you were passed over for a promotion that you thought was yours. You didn’t get the recognition you thought you were due. Rather than working through the issue jealousy caused you to act out in unbecoming ways. Jealousy creates strife, not harmony.

Jealousy skewers your judgment

One of the unfortunate side effects of a jealous leader is that your judgment becomes impaired. Rather than looking at situations objectively you now act out in ways that speaks more of pettiness and retaliation. When jealousy is in your heart it will reflect in the decisions you make.

How to fix it?:

Be honest with yourself

Being honest about jealous feelings is the proverbial first step in weeding it out. Don’t let pride be your downfall by refusing to deal with it. We’ve all had a jealous moment or two in our lives, but we don’t have to lead that way. You can’t build trust with your people if you are not honest with yourself.

Be comfortable in your own skin

As a leader you don’t have to compare yourself to anyone. Don’t allow personal insecurities lead to your demise. Be confident in the talents and abilities you possess and do all that you can to inspire the same in others. Recognize that the skills and abilities you have will be different from those around you. See your colleagues not as you adversaries but as allies. You win and succeed by getting along not by being jealous.

Be accountable to others

Your success as a leader is a work in progress. Jealousy is a toxic emotion that can derail it. But if you will allow a trusted confidant or mentor to hold you accountable it can save you a lot of grief in the future. Leading others is an awesome responsibility. Leading yourself takes some work. Accountability makes it all possible.

What do you say?


© 2014 Doug Dickerson


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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