Orrin Woodward LIFE Leadership Team

Winner of the 2011 Independent Association of Business Top Leader Award; Orrin Woodward shares his leadership secrets.

Ayn Rand – Leadership & Envy

Posted by Orrin Woodward on March 10, 2008

Read an informational article on envy from Ayn Rand.  Ayn Rand was a gifted economist/philosopher who wrote several best selling books.  She has hit the nail on the head for managers who desire the attributes, respect or possessions of leaders—without the hunger to develop the corresponding skills necessary to lead.  Envy is like taking poison and expecting someone else to die.  Envy kills the host organism and ruins their ability to think, lead and function properly.  I have attached Ayn Rand’s original article and placed my thoughts on leaders vs. envious managers after each paragraph.  If you plan on excelling in leadership—plan on dealing with envy.   You can either learn from leaders or envy leaders.  The choice is yours.  Have you dealt with envy on your leadership journey?  Keep growing as a leader and on your way to the top, you will. God Bless, Orrin Woodward

Superficially, the motive of those who hate the good is taken to be envy.  A dictionary definition of envy is: “1. a sense of discontent or jealousy with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.  2. desire for an advantaged position possessed by another.” (The Random House Dictionary, 1968.)  The same dictionary adds the following elucidation:  “To envy is to feel resentful because someone else possesses or has achieved what one wishes oneself to possess or to have achieved.”

A leader is someone who has a following.  The hungry student desires to learn from the leader to develop their own following.  This is natural and why mentor-mentee relationships are so important.  If someone desired to have a following, but was not willing to develop into a leader—they have a major problem.  Groups will only willingly follow leaders—not managers.  If the manager desires the following of a leader, but the group follows the leader—the envious person will attack the leader (object of envy) through slander, libel, legal system, etc.  The envious manager would attack the leader and attempt to bribe, cajole, threaten and intimidate the followers to convince them to stop following the object of their envy and to start following them instead.

This covers a great many emotional responses, which come from different motives.  In a certain sense, the second definition is the opposite of the first, and the more innocent of the two.   For example, if a poor man experiences a moment’s envy of another man’s wealth, the feeling may mean nothing more than a momentary concretization of his desire for wealth; the feeling is not directed against that particular rich person and is concerned with the wealth, not the person.  The feeling, in effect, may amount to: “I wish I had an income or a house, or a car, or an overcoat) like his.”  The result of this feeling may be an added incentive for the man to improve his financial condition.

If a manager desired to be the leader of a group of people—they may experience a twinge of envy against the real leader.  This desire is natural and if used to seek counsel from the object of envy—they would learn to lead and perhaps develop their own following.   Recognizing the vast gap between the leader’s influence and the manager’s influence is called confronting reality.  All the manager would have to do is ask the leader how they developed their influence.   Successful leaders are always willing to help managers develop into influential leaders because they do not envy others success.

The feeling is less innocent, if it amounts to: “I want this man’s car (or overcoat, or diamond shirt studs, or industrial establishment).” The result is a criminal.

This is where envy can eat at the manager doing the envying and destroy their ability to influence.  The manager no longer desires to develop the skills necessary to lead their own group of people—instead, the manager’s envy drives him to take the followers from the leader against their will.  People will not willingly follow the manager which creates an environment of threats and intimidation to force people to do the envious manager’s will.  The result is criminal as Ayn Rand states. 

But these are still human beings, in various stages of immorality, compared to the inhuman object whose feeling is: “I hate this man because he is wealthy and I am not.”

The manager states, “I hate this leader because he has influence and I do not.”

Envy is part of this creature’s feeling, but only the superficial, semi-respectable part; it is the tip of an iceberg showing nothing worse than ice, but with the submerged part consisting of a compost of rotting living matter.  The envy, in this case, is semi-respectable because it seems to imply a desire for material possessions, which is a human being’s desire. But, deep down, the creature has no such desire: it does not want to be rich, it wants the human being to be poor.

When the manager is consumed with envy—they no longer desire to develop influence.  Their only desire is to destroy the influence of the leader they envy.  The followers see the manager for what he is: a small person that is not capable or willing to learn leadership.

This is particularly clear in the much more virulent cases of hatred, masked as envy, for those who possess personal values or virtues: hatred of a man (or a woman) because he (or she) is beautiful or intelligent or successful or honest or happy.  In these cases, the creature has no desire and makes no effort to improve its appearance, to develop or to use its intelligence, to struggle for success, to practice honesty, to be happy (nothing can make it happy).  It knows that the disfigurement or the mental collapse or the failure or the immorality or the misery of its victim would not endow it with his or her value. It does not desire the value: it desires the value’s destruction.

The managers continued envy eventually develops into hatred of the leader’s character and virtues.  The manager drops all pretence of attempting to help the followers.  The manager only seeks to destroy as many people following the leader as possible.  The manager realizes the leader’s followers will never be his followers, but this is no longer the goal.  The goal is not to maintain the value of the community: the goal is only to destroy the value of the community. 

“They do not want to own your fortune, they want you to lose it; they do not want to succeed, they want you to fail; they do not want to live, they want you to die; they desire nothing, they hate existence …”(Atlas Shrugged. – Ayn Rand)

The manager does not want to own your community of people, they want the leader to lose it; they do not want to succeed as a leader, they want you to fail as a leader; they do not want to survive, they want you to die; they desire no leadership, they hate leadership.  

What do you do when a manager envies your leadership and influence?  I believe you must answer personal attacks with a restorer’s heart.  The envious manager seeks to destroy, but the principle centered leader seeks to restore.  As a leader, you are responsible to follow God’s law—let Him be responsible for the consequences of your obedience.

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