Often times resentment builds when we feel like we’re being told what to do and how to do it. To avoid this, we must take the role of a servant leader, who focuses on leading and not dictating. I have learned from my father how to be a servant leader. He has worked in an HR department for over 25 years and understands how difficult it is for employees to hear bad news about the decrease in their benefits packages or the quarterly loss of their paychecks. He helps his employees process their feelings, acknowledge any anger and resentment they might have towards him or the company, and then he works with them on finding ways to make things as easy as possible until they can find new work.

The ability to lead others is a gift, and one (if used correctly) that can bring great value to any organization. A servant leader is focused on leading, not dictating; they understand the value of working with others to achieve goals while maintaining professionalism. This is the key distinction between a manager and a leader; when we think of a manager we typically picture someone who tells people what to do and how to do it. Servant leaders are the complete opposite of that; instead, they focus on helping those they lead become successful while guiding them in the right direction.

Resentment separates leaders from the led. Resentment among employees can be caused by poor communication, lack of power sharing, or inequitable treatment. The most effective way for a leader to transform resentment is to start with herself or himself. Strive to create equity, build trust, and encourage involvement.

As a child grows up, it is easy for tensions to develop between its parents. There may be times when the child feels ignored or neglected. Feeling resentment towards this type of treatment is normal, but in order to lead and not just dictate, an adult must learn how to handle these negative emotions in a productive way. Taking the time to listen to the needs of the child will make them feel heard and acknowledged. Including the child in the decision making process will help them feel they are part of a team, and are therefore valued by their parents. The proper handling of negative emotions leads to building trust within relationships. Trust is a very important component, as it ensures smooth functioning of a group or organization.

As a child I tuned out the soft-spoken guidance of my parents, and I felt bitter inside. When they spoke their words were not in line with my actions. This is a continuing problem many parents have with their children: how to get them to listen and follow when there is resentment present in the relationship. As an adult, I work as an individual contributor for a small business branch of a global organization. I often feel resentment from my boss and his management staff due to the heavy workload that we must endure. We are understaffed, underutilized, not taken seriously by headquarters even though we perform ground-breaking work that creates value for customers and shareholders alike. The feeling of resentment stifles me on a daily basis. I choke back what I want to say in meetings because I make excuses for my manager’s behavior; however, he has made it clear that he sees nothing wrong with his ways, so where do I go from here?

You’re a servant leader when you make sure that everyone gets an opportunity to be heard and considered. In fact, it’s your job not just to make sure everyone feels like they’re contributing, but to help them see how their own actions benefit others.




Resentment tears people and organizations apart. A servant leader focuses on leading and not dictating. Explain how you could transform feelings of resentment into a force for leading.

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