Entitlement- The Loftiest Point IN Leadership When A Leader Taken AS A Given

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The enthronement of Nelson Mandela’s statue in London’s Parliament Square in 2007 marks a leader who has travelled all his leadership years from obscurity to entitlement. The mayor of London, Ken Livingstone said of Mandela before the listening world, “Long after we are forgotten, you will be remembered for having taught the world one amazing truth; that you can achieve justice without vengeance. I honor you and London honor you.”  As Gordon Brown, the then British Prime Minister said of Mandela in the same occasion, “A man whose belief in the future was so powerful that not even 27 years behind bars and barbed wire could destroy his dream and his demand-that- by fighting apartheid from his prison cell, millions today could be free.”   Brown added a rider that should be embossed in a golden plaque and hang in every leader’s office, “He rose above the greatest without arrogance and he stooped to help the weakest without condescending.”

Leaders like Mandela and Kofi Annan have reached the entitlement stage. Though having some characteristics of this stage, and though having already entered in the Nobel Prize family, Obama is yet to knock the doors of this stage. This is the stage where as Brown so passionately said of Mandela, “And let us salute not just the greatness of Nelson Mandela, but the goodness of the man too…” Indeed, as exemplified by Mandela, this is the stage where the greatness of leadership is supposed to meet the goodness of the leader.   

Mandela must have climbed all the ten leadership defining moments of leadership to settle at the loftiest and most honoured of them-the Entitled leadership. The other ten leadership stages are Emptiness, Experimentation, Experiential, Endeavour, Engagement, Endorsement, Endearment, Endowment, Entrenchment and Entitlement, where Mandela undisputedly occupies. This means Entitlement is the loftiest point in leadership, when a leader is taken as a given. At such a point, a leader is perceived as if he or she was born for one sole purpose-to lead. If all other leaders got into leadership through godfathers, being pushed, or being in the right position or right timing, entitlement leaders were born to just lead. According to French and Raven, such a leader have gained the third basis of power called is legitimate power. In this, the follower complies because he or she believes the leader has the right to make request, and the follower has the obligation to comply.  The rightness to make any request can make the follower comply with any request because this right to make a request resonates very well with his or her oughtness to comply. To the people, entitlement leader has gained the right to lead them. The people are so comfortable to be led by such a leader that they almost cannot imagine his or her not being there.  Such as leader was born, or exists for that one thing, to lead them. They no longer question or raise eyebrows when he or she says something. They have taken such a leader and his or her leadership as natural or obvious or as a given. 

Given the allure of fame, power and glory, what are the common temptations that surround a leader in the entailed leadership?   Some of these temptations are as follows:

Proud, Aloof & Unmoved: In his book The Hubris syndrome: Bush, Blair and the Intoxication of Power, Owen calls some leaders hubristic, that is, a possession of arrogance, pompous, overbearing, superstitious, and overconfidence. Like the Greek mythological story of Narcissus who looked at himself on a pond of water only to be so captivated by his own beauty that he fell in love with himself, entitlement leaders can also fall in love with themselves. They can develop a sense of, “What can anybody add to me what I do not have?”  That sense of self-sufficiency, that feeling that nothing or nobody can move him or her, that sense that everybody and everything must do to his or her bidding or dance to his or her tune can bring a sense of invincibility and a false sense of security that tells him or her that nothing or nobody equals or above him or her. Such unequalled pride, such immortality, such invincibility, and so well wrapped by a look of disdain and aloofness may make such a leader care for nobody or nothing.

Manipulating & Misusing People:Leaders in such lofty stage may have seen so many people stand in awe when they enter a room, salute them when they pass on and prostrate before them, may have seen so many people lining in the streets to see them, salute them and adore them that may have taken this as a given, as part of their entitlement.  MacGregor Burns narrates an incident where king Mtesa, King of Uganda showed avid interest in the guns Mr. John Speke had brought. The king invited his guest to take potshots at the cows, and great applause broke out when Speke dropped five in a row. Speke reported further, “The king now loaded one of the carbines I had given him with his own hands, and giving it full-cock to page, told him (one of his servants) to go out and shoot a man in the outer court, which was no sooner accomplished than the little urchin returned to announce his success with a look of glee ….Speke said, “And no one inquired about the man who have been killed.”

When a leader can go to the extent of lowering people’s dignity, has no respect to life, and where shooting a man and a cow amounts to the same thing, this is when leadership has gone irredeemably bad and rotten through and through. This is the time when a leader’s conscience is dead and he or she is not touched by the bleeding or tears of men and women, the open wounds of children and the warm tears of people crying for some little bit of love and tolerance from him or her. This is the type of a leader who can watch evening news of people dying of hunger and smile and laugh because it no longer moves him.  

Squandering State or Business Resources:King Solomon portraying the glory and splendor of his kingdom to queen of Sheba was not the only incident of such kind. Indeed, in the modern age, other kings, presidents and ordinary people have followed suit. Unlike Solomon who had all it takes, the latter day ‘Solomon’s’ do not have what it takes.  And, to match up with Solomon’s glory and splendor, such leaders substantiate their lack by depleting state or business resources. The splendor and glory witnessed by world leaders at the celebration of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) summit in Ethiopia was mind boggling. President Mengistu Haire Mariam made sure his guests were at home away from home. Meredith reports:

To signify the importance of the event, he (Mengistu) ordered the construction of a new convention hall-the Great Hall of the People-with seating for 3,500 delegates and the most modern conference facilities. With the help of hundreds of North Korean supervisors, he set out to adorn Addis Ababa with triumphal arches bearing revolutionary slogans, with giant stars displaying the hammer and sickle hoisted high on buildings, and with huge posters of Marx, Lenin, and- Mengistu. Thousands of delegates from communist parties around the world would be invited to witness the birth of his ‘vanguard’ Marxist-Leninist party. There would be mass marching and dancing and banquet. No expense was to be spared.

As the invited and honored guests wined and dined in the OAU summit with no worry or lack in the world, hidden from the world by state machinery were Ethiopian people who were reported to be dying like flies of starvation. Meredith says, “But while Mengistu became ever more captivated by the details of the tenth anniversary, Ethiopia was heading for its greatest disaster of the twentieth century-the famine of 1984. Forewarned of catastrophe, Mengistu was determined that nothing should be allowed to get in the way of his celebrations. For months he refused to give the matter any attention. On his orders, relief efforts were obstructed. No mention was made during the celebrations of the masses starving to death north of the capital.

In other words, unknown to them, the invited guests were tossing the red wine and celebrating the bread of guilt. If many knew this, they would have called for fasting even if the Muslim month of Ramadhan was not on site, and could have given the food to the dying Ethiopians. But Mengistu was wiser than they were and made sure they went home belching with Ethiopian plenty as his people starved.


-Public Expectations of Entitlement Leaders

Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs can describe such cream leadership as a leadership in the crest of self-actualization. These are leaders who are supposed to no longer care so much about themselves or their needs and concerns but should rather direct their care and concern to others. They should be the stabilizing elements of the society, the leaders who offer people hope, promise and inspiration. These are leaders whose main leadership is to give the world their well deserved smile.  Talking of real success, Dr. Battister once said, “You have reached the pinnacle of success as soon as you become uninterested in money, compliments or publicity.” Even as people offer them permanent entitlement for leadership, the best entitlement leaders can do is to have no illusions of entitlement on their side. They should portray a sense of selflessness as they lead people. The position of a servant is clear: It is that specific duty of serving his or her master. The arrangement is that a servant takes and is expected to take a lower rank. His or her master is always higher in everything. There is always either a servant or a leader and not both.

In servant leadership, an oxymoron combination is produced when the two ‘irreconcilable’ words are combined. This means that a leader has willingly and voluntarily taken the responsibilities associated to a servant. In this, we get a leader not only serving, but prioritizing serving. Giving the difference between leader-first as opposed to servant first Greenleaf argues that   a servant leader is a servant first, and a leader second and not the other way round.  Thus, in such a high position as this, leaders ought to serve people and this is both a matter of attitude and action. It is indeed a great challenge to portray servant leadership as expected in the entitled leaders. This is because the bar is too high and everybody without apologies expects them to live up to the script. The following are some characteristics of servant leaders ought to portray.

A More Display of Wisdom, Genuine Humility & Service:

I believe the monarchy was introduced for people to have a model to live by. However, to a large extent, human failings made the monarchy lose a great deal of that position.  This did not, however, make people not to look at their leaders as models. Not that people expect leaders to be angels, but they do not want devils. In between that level, people still expect leaders who are not perfect, but are able to give them a model to live by. People still look to leaders especially in such exalted position and expect them to portray a model to them.

At such high degree of leadership, leaders are expected to display wisdom accumulated by experience, probably age and wide exposure.  In other words, the world count on their wisdom to make pertinent decisions facing them. They are expected to point the way towards alleviation of human misery and suffering, paint a vision that is so compelling to the people that will make them look up in hope rather than down in despair.

George Washington Carver (1864-1945) once gave this immortal truth, “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant to the weak and strong, because some day in life you will have been all of these.” The more a leader rises, the more he or she is supposed to bend downwards to reach those who are down and downtrodden. People expect their leaders to display genuine compassion and humility.

A More Display of Praise, Appreciation & Inspiration:

 The theory of stick and sting effect holds that as much as criticism coming from an authority figure stings too much, praise from the same sticks more. The authority figures hold effect on the led. It really stings if they criticize somebody and if they praise it equally sticks. Mary Kay Ash, Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics said it bluntly, “There are two things people want more than sex and money-recognition and praise.” People are hungry of praise. Hundreds of thousands of people are walking in the street desiring somebody to recognize them and offer them praise. The highest phase and stage in the leadership rank should be where praise is manufactured and distributed to the people.

Entitled leaders should be inspirers, lifting people’s spirits, inspirations, telling the people that they can achieve, invigorating in them words of hope and courage. They should give the people words of inspiration, words that make people aim higher and set their vision to the skies. Leaders in this phase should make people boil with joy and hope that they shall achieve and accomplish what they have set for themselves.  They should feed people with words that make people jump out of bed with hope and spring through the day with a smile.

A More Display of Greatness that kisses Goodness:

The most apt summary of public expectation of leaders in this phase is well put by the British premier Gordon Brown to Mandela, “And let us salute not just the greatness of Nelson Mandela, but the goodness of the man too…” Greatness must meet goodness. Do you remember the quality of virtue we talked about in the first stage of leadership-the empty stage? This is what Brown is calling goodness. Therefore, if vision brings greatness to a leader, virtue brings goodness. Greatness alone does not solve people’s problems, and goodness alone is a lame duck. However, when greatness kisses goodness, it works to produce a thoroughly complete leader. And this is what the people expect of their leaders especially as exalted as those who occupy this phase.  

How are entitled leaders supposed to behave? The first thing is that such  leaders ought to let people entitle them, and refrain from  self- entitlement, have nothing to prove or lose, nothing to hide or hold back and, at the same time everything give and gain and, literally, serve  people. 

Not Self but People-Entitlement

After all coursework, thesis, projects and all academic requirements and all efforts to earn the degree, students deserve their degree. Unlike the degree that is awarded for academic achievements, an honorable degree is given in recognition of something else. Entitlement is like an honorary degree, or an award, not an acquired degree. Leaders are entitled for their efforts. They cannot award themselves that   degree. They wait to be recognized and awarded. It is people, not leaders themselves who entitle their leaders.

During the Zhou Dynasty, in the year c.600BC, the Chinese minister of Chu Kingdom, Sun Shu Ao, thundered these immortal words, “The higher my rank, the more humbly I behave. The greater my power, the less I exercise it. The richer my wealth, the more I give away. Thus I avoid, respectively, envy and spite and misery.” This so aptly applies to a leader in the entitlement stage. To avoid envy and spite and misery, entitled leaders should avoid taking his or her position as an entitled leader. Such leaders should always be cognizant to the fact that entitlement is not on their side but on the side of the led that it is given by the people and not acquired by such leaders.

When he was the president, Mandela portrayed how secure he was in his leadership when he had to delegate his duties to his arch-rival and opposition leader, Mongutsu Butelethi. His deputy having also travelled out of the country, Mandela was also to travel out for two days. In a dramatic move, he handed the leadership to the leader of the opposition and went. The power-hungry opposition leader was so humbled by the act that he said he does not want anything wrong to happen while he was acting and the president was away. In other words, he did not want to disappoint the man who had so much trusted him to hand over power to him. And, of course, nothing happened. That act alone silenced and humbled the man when he saw that he could be trusted.  From then on, he not only respected Mandela even more, but ceased from criticizing him. 

How are entitled leaders supposed to behave before the people? They are supposed to have nothing to prove, nothing to hide and nothing to hold back. 

Nothing to prove, Nothing to Lose

One of the greatest characteristics a leader in the entitlement leadership is that he or she should be so secure that he or she cannot and do not attempt to prove anything. Such a leader has been long in public domain and so does not need any proof; hence can neither put a public display, work to prove capability nor even struggle to win acceptance or approval nor show off anything. The security of leadership enjoyed by the occupant makes him or her not to even attempt to put a hindrance or oppress upcoming leaders because they are not a threat anyway. In fact, such a leader rejoices as they see other capable leaders rise to occupy positions of leadership. Indeed, such a leader works to help them rise, mentor them, give them a model of leadership they are supposed to offer and works to develop and sharpen their skills.

Leaving such a position is to give another gifted brain an opportunity to carry on is the greatest pleasure. An entitlement leader will let go his or her leadership position if the situation demands, if he or she still holds one, and do so without reluctance and bitterness.  He or she will help the new leader settle in, bless him or her and place his or her experience at his or her disposal. To such a leader, his or her self-esteem is not glued to the leadership post neither is his or her self importance drawn from the post of leadership held (or not held).  To him or her, leadership is not a battle to lose or gain, but a service to render.

Nothing to Hide, Nothing to Hold Back

As some leaders find solace only in the cover of darkness, running away from press and the public, an entitled leader leads an open life, open life, open heart, open book and open mind.  Not that the press choose to cover the positive side of such a leader, or afraid to cover the dark side, but when they come prying on such a leader’s private life, the only news they get is positive. Such a leader has or finds nothing to hide. Not only does such leader have an open life, he or she also has an open heart. Having developed a culture of openness that does not fear accountants, auditors, probes or any assessment because his or  her records are straight and his or her books always open, such a leader does not dread to any accountability but is always open to it. It is lack or absence of accountability that such a leader hates and where there exists no such structures, works to establish them.

One of the positive things some governments in Africa are doing is the establishment of African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). Led by Graca Machel and under the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and the APRM reviews governments performance thus enforcing accountability structures in those governments. Guided by its four pillars of democracy and political governance, economic governance and management, corporate governance and social- economic development, such peer review ensures governments becomes stronger after such an exercise and are better off afterwards. Though some governments are resistant to such a move because they may have many bones in the cupboard, the good news is that many have embraced such reviews which are helping them very much. 

Another very positive move is the establishment of Mo Ibrahim Foundation which not only comes out with an annual index of African governance, but also awards  former African leaders who set an examples of honest, democratic government. Of course in the West there are such or similar and probably more established initiatives, such are very noble initiatives that promote accountability as well as transparency throughout the world.

Not only does an entitled leader love open book, he or she loves an open mind. In this such a leader feels he or she has a lot to offer. Such a leader wants to share his or her experiences with young and upcoming leaders so that they can avoid some pitfalls he or she may have passed through. He or she wants to pass on positive principles that can apply in leadership. Such a leader is out to equip others with all the knowledge he or she has gained and gleaned and which God has given him or her in the course of his or her leadership.  They have everything to give, withholds nothing that can be of benefit to other leaders and the led as well. Such leaders do not hoard knowledge, wisdom or material blessings from others. They are out to advice, counsel, and guide, expose people to a higher life and are happy when they benefit from what they are willing to give. Some establish foundations, others think tanks while others other noble initiatives. Many of them engage in writing their experiences so that mankind can read, benefit and be wise. 

A leader in the entitlement stage has everything to gain from his or her leadership well bequeathed. Such a leader commands worldwide respect, honor and recognition from everybody. A good name is far better than silver or gold is inscribed to such a leader. Above all, he or she is at peace with God and himself or herself. Apart from his numerous books topping the charts in sales, Billy Graham is a man with a life decorated with medals of honor and respect.  He has been in the list of the ten most Admired Men in the World from the Gallup Polls since 1955-a total of 37 times-more than any other individual in the world. Has taken the Freedoms Foundation Distinguished Persons Award for numerous years; has been awarded Clergyman of the year, Speaker of the year, Wisdom Award of honor among other hundreds of awards. These are just fruits of work well done; a leadership well conducted where a leader sits down to reap the fruits of his or her labor and to draw great satisfaction from his or her job. 

Beyond Themselves-What Entitled Leaders Bequeath to the World

Will leaders leave behind monument or legacy? Spurgeon says that there is something very much amiss about a man who is not missed when he dies, and is of the opinion that every man (and woman) should leave a monument behind the recollection of his life by his neighbors. He continues, “A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots are withered.” Well, by now we suspect that Spurgeon is talking about something beyond a stone, metal or wooden monument. And he confirms our suspicion when he declares, “Carve your name on hearts and not on marble.”

Spurgeon rearranges many leaders’ priorities who believe that leaving a legacy is to build a marble monument in the centre of the city.  Anybody with enough money to waste can build such a monument, which, to the best, serves as a historical status reminding us of that leader. If such a leader abused our rights, such a monument serve as an epitome reminder of a leader who the world could have been better of not having. This monument serves to prolong the memory of a toxic history build by such a toxic leader.  Some people will adjust their watches with that clock on a monument built in memory of a bad leader and move on without stopping to admire the monument. Many people, however, would rather go with unadjusted watches than do anything with such monuments.

 It is the goodness done to people not the marble monument holding the city clock that people will remember. As Spurgeon so well put it, a lasting legacy is written in people’s hearts, and leaders should be, like Diana was, queen of hearts. Tyron Edwards, American clergyman must have been anticipating this stage when he said, “One of the greatest lessons the fall of the leaf teaches us is this: Do your work well and then be ready to depart when God shall call.” The sole purpose of leaders in the entitlement stage is to do their work well, and then, like a leaf, fall down and leave the scene.  Once leaders play their cards of leadership as expected, such leaders leave behind a positive, lasting legacy, a monument which all future leaders will look to for direction and inspiration. This is an appeal to leaders, small and great-  to dance well when it is your time to dance, and when you leave the scene, we are going to remember for not only the style of the dance but the song that went with the dance. As for me, I will stop my watch and ask to be taken to Mandela’s monument in London where I will proudly adjust it.  This is because Mandela bequeathed me with a lasting legacy of leadership.

This is a summary of chapter 10 of a book entitled, PUBLIC LEADERSHIP: HOW LEADERS ACQUIRE & HANDLE FAME, POWER & GLORY by Moses Kibe Kihiko published by Miraclaire Publishing (Website:www.miraclairebooks.com, E-mail addressinfo@miraclairebooks.com). The author’s can be reached at moseskihiko@yahoo.com.To learn more about the book, purchase the book or contact the author or publisher, please use the details below:

Osei Boating, “He rose above the greatest without arrogance.” in The New African magazine, October 2007, No. 466, 38-40.




  James MacGregor Burns, Leadership, New York: an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 9-10.

Martin Meredith, The State of Africa: A history of Fifty Years of Independence, London, Free Press, 2005, 331.

Ibid, 332.

Robert K. Greenleaf, Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power & Greatness, Magna House, Old Prabhdeshi Rd., Mumbai: Magna Publishing Co. Ltd, 2003, 27.  

C.H. Spurgeon, John Ploughman’s Talks: Everyday Advice Based on Biblical Truth, Springdale, PA: Whitaker House, 1993, 177.


  Jeffrey D. Sachs in an article, “Business Leadership and Sustainable Development: A Perspective of Corporate Social Responsibility” in Responsible Leadership: Global Perspective, Christopher Stuckelberger and J.N.K. Mugambi (Editors), (Nairobi, Kenya: Acton Publishers, 2005), 199.

Peggy Noonan, Woman of the World, Readers Digest, Feb 1998, 46.

Ben Pimlott, The Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth II, New York: John Willey & Sons, Inc, 1996, xiii

Ibid, 447.

Shabaji Opukah, The Cancer Africa Can Cure, Daily Nation, 26th April 2009.



Mutuma Ruteere, “Lasting legacy of the ‘Secular Pope’ at UN” in Sunday Nation, 17th December 2006.

Richard Stengel, The Mandela I came to know- Readers Digest, May 1995, 66.


Robert L. Herrmann, Sir John Templeton: From Wall Street to Humility Theology, Philadelphia & London: Templeton Foundation Press, 1998.

Ibid, 158-160.


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