The Hostage Mentality!

A mentee of mine, who has a very high ceiling, sent me a thank you recently for some advice I’d given her in our most recent discussion about her feeling of being held hostage by her direct report.

If I look back over my entire career, I can say without reservation that I lived in this prison for the majority of my personal and professional career. It’s hard to describe, but it’s a combination of legalism, intimidation and fear that not only immobilizes, it completely limits your capacity.

It is much like being held hostage, which, in my opinion, is the most egregious violation a leader can commit against a subordinate. I will continue to tell those who come to me for leadership guidance to never let anyone make you feel you’re not good enough. If they do, it means they’re intimidated by your capacity and know where your ceiling is much better than you do, which (as you will hopefully find out sooner rather than later) is way over their heads.


Written by Maxie Carpenter

Maxie Carpenter was formerly Vice President of HR & Talent Development for Wal-Mart Stores. After a 27-year career, he began to pursue a number of other interests, which included alternative education, nonprofits, consulting, writing and public speaking.

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