Entitlement Syndrome: Teaching Examples

“Entitlement Syndrome” refers to a belief by employees, usually senior employees, that their position entitles them to certain perks. A 2012 Washington Post article on allegations against three Army general officers provides multiple examples for use in training, including this:

On Feb. 14 he sent the following e-mail to an aide: “Might you be able to stop by a florist and pick up a small bouquet of spring flowers for me? Not extravagant at all — just a small not very expensive bouquet.” The aide offered to get it and asked where the general would like the flowers delivered. Ward responded: “Can you have in the limo pls — trunk. Tnx”

Examples like these may have much more teaching value than examples like the high-ranking EPA official who in effect stole hundreds of thousands of dollars by claiming to be an undercover CIA operative. Few employees would ever dream of that type of fraud, and those few are unlikely to be dissuaded by an ethics briefing. On the other hand, many high ranking officials–ones we otherwise would consider honest and capable–succumb to the temptation to take advantage of abusing subordinates.