Copyright 2006 Stan Lewis
Most of us are familiar with the Ten Commandments. Most of us heard them as children, with some taking many, few, or none of the commandments to heart. Now some of these commandments strike us as serious things that should never be violated. The one that rises to the top of most of our minds is the commandment, “…thou shall not kill…” This is a very serious commandment and one of our highest laws; however, if I had to pick a key commandment from the Ten, thou shall not kill would not be at the top of my list. Rather it would be that little remembered commandment that says that,”…thou shall not covet thy neighbors property…” Most people are murdered today because someone else wanted something they had and killed that person to get it. People steal because they want something that someone else has. As a Christian life and leadership coach, I also know that many leaders, allow covetous and envy to intrude upon and hurt their teams.
Covet means to want ardently or to badly want something that someone else has. There are times when a manager or supervisor of a team is not a leader. When meetings or planning sessions are conducted, many of the team members will all turn towards a certain person(s), manager or not. Especially, when an answer to a problem is needed or the team needs direction. Many low to mid level managers will covet what this leader has.
Or let’s say that there is an individual who badly wants to branch out into management or a supervisory role, but has not developed their personal talents to become a leader. Many of these people want to get to the top, but do not want to pay the price to do so. When the team or group is looking towards someone else in the group for leadership or management is looking towards someone other than them to lead, they covet the attention the leader is getting.
In any case, people wrongly covet what they desire, but do not have. And to clarify, many of these people have untapped gifts which they have never developed for leadership positions. The choice to not develop or seek development is theirs, but they rarely regard this fact. A covetable attitude is really kindled in this type of person when upper management is recognizing the accomplishments of a true leader. They want what the perceived leader has and they want it now not latter.
A covetous attitude leads to jealousy. Jealousy is a revengeful emotion that arises from a desire to have what someone else has. Here again, the strong desire to possess something that belongs to somebody else is the spark of destructive behavior. You desire to have what another has and that desire festers, grows, and consumes that person. When it gets to the point where it begins to consume the edges of a persons sanity is where destructive behavior takes off like wildfire. At this point, people can and will do almost anything to advance themselves and get that which they covet, but do not wish to earn on their own. They become self made monsters feed by bitter emotions.
A gentleman told me a sad story one day. He had worked really hard to develop his talents/skills as a team member and a leader. He told me that he loved what he did. People and upper management looked to him to solve difficult situations and to lead the way. This gentleman also poured into his team members and always sought to acknowledge and lift them up. However, there was one of his team members that were not happy. You see he had been in his position longer than my friend, but he was not getting the recognition that my friend was getting. This coworker’s attitude became – why not me? He felt that he was in the position longer and the accolades should be going to him and not my friend, because of seniority. The fact was that this coworker had a lot of potential, but was doing nothing relevant with it. Instead, he feed his monster.
Managers, supervisors, and team members need to understand that the world does not revolve around them. However, it is difficult to do this if these managers, supervisors, or team members who have not or will not develop their own gifts/talents to become a good leader. Even natural leaders must work on their gifts or they risk not growing to become all they can be as a leader. Rather than feeding the monster, I encourage each of you to find, develop, and use your gifts/talents. Effort and hard work may take you longer, but it is far better to earn a position of leadership than to dispose of the bones of your victims in your closet while getting to the top. Remember, there will be those who may covet what you have obtained, do you really want to find your bones hidden in another’s closet – who disposed of you on their climb to the top? So stop feeding the monster. Be yourself. Develop your unique skills and talents to be all that you can be. Personal growth and development, along with hard work – will take you farther than the monster ever will.