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Jealousy and Envy in Leadership

"Envy is the art of counting the other fellow's blessings instead of your own." - Harold Coffin

Envy is sometimes defined as a feeling of grudging admiration and desire to have something that is possessed by another. Jealousy, on the other hand, is that unpleasant emotion you feel when you think someone’s trying to take what’s yours. It made sense when I heard this, "it takes two people for envy and three to cause jealousy".

Jealousy, sometimes known as the "green-eyed monster", is a feeling that shows up at some point in our lives. We become obsessed with comparing ourselves with others, competing to see who has the best of what, simply wanting more, or angered by what someone has that you want. Jealousy is an emotional reaction to a particular mindset. Napoleon Hill’ Think and Grow Rich, referred to this behavior or emotional response as “scarcity mindset.”
In conversation with a mentee about the perils of leadership, the topic of jealousy surfaced. Leading in any settings, the marketplace, at home or in your community, you will face the feeling of jealousy. You may be the “jealousee or jealouser” (yes, I made these words up (smile) and hope you get it.) You will be either the receiver or giver of jealousy because you may covet the gifts of another or another covet your gifts or accolades. Let us face it, leadership is messy, bumpy and is a rollercoaster ride. Ups and down and uncertainty every turn you make.
As a leader, what do you do when faced with jealousy in the work place. Do you avoid talking about the rivalry or dismiss as petty, childish behavior? Do you address jealousy, as soon as you identify the behavior, or do you just turn your head the other way? Leaders must be mindful not to enable or water the seeds of jealousy by overly recognizing one team member over another, or down play one person’s position or title over another. Leaders, remember that every member of your team is essential and important to complete the mission and realize the vision of the organization. Yes, jealousy affects performance and productivity.
Here are five ways to manage jealousy in the workplace:
1- Recognize that envy and jealousy is an emotional response and may require more than just a conversation. The problem may be deeper than what the surface reflects. A referral to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) may be necessary if the behavior persists.
2- Acknowledge the role you as leader may play in the situation. As leaders, there are situations where you knowingly or unknowingly elevate one employee over another. Remain present to your actions and the words you say. The solution may be simply, you as the leader adjusting what you say and do and when.
3- Conduct periodic check-in with each team member. You may say you have no time for this. However, spending 30 minutes per month one on one with your immediate reports may save tons of times reacting to a situation that could be avoided.
4- Provide an opportunity for all to display their work no matter what title or role they play in the organization. Remember, each person is an essential member of your organization, without each, the mission is not completed.

5- Identify a process to recognize and handle jealousy amongst your team members and even leadership. A little competition is okay. However, you must be vigilant that the competition does not spill over to jealousy and hampers the productivity and focus of the organization.

Is your organization not meeting its full potential because of jealousy or lack of clarity on roles and responsibilities? Need help leading growth and conflict in your organization? Click here for a no cost consultation .

Ilka V. Chavez
Corporate GOLD, LLC
“Learn it. Live it. Lead it.”

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