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Leadership and codependency

executive suit and tie

If you are the sort of boss who has to check over everyone’s work, that might be because you are diligent. Or it could be a sign that you’re codependent.

It’s one of many signs of this emotional and behavioral condition. Originally used around alcoholism, it explained how it was not just the problem drinker who had an addiction.

It reasoned that often some of the alcoholic’s family and friends were addicted to the relationship they had with him or her.

Author Melody Beattie made codependency a familiar concept with her 1980s bestseller Codependent No More: How To Stop Controlling Others And Start Caring For Yourself. It popularized the idea that being addicted to a person or a type of relationship was something that clearly existed.

Beattie’s definition of a codependent person is someone who has let another person’s behavior affect them. So they are obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior.

Codependency is such as where someone enables another to continue in an unhealthy way of living: with an addiction, a mental health issue, or simply not acting in a mature and responsible manner.

This happens because a codependent person is using that other person to give them validation, approval, recognition and an identity.

Also known as “relationship addiction”, codependency can be learned from the family you grew up in. You may recognize in one of your parents or significant adult carers during your childhood that while they insisted they were looking after somebody, including you, it was much more about control.

This is often because as a child, they were deprived of love and approval.

Codependency is then this way passed on from generation to generation.

How can I spot codependency?

  • It is difficult for a codependent person to keep healthy boundaries if they even know what they are. 
  • A codependent person frequently takes over another person’s responsibilities.
  • There are constant fears of abandonment, so a codependent person will do virtually anything to avoid this sort of rejection.
  • They are prone to over-helping.
  • They will see approval from others as more important than respecting themselves.
  • They are someone who is scared of ever being wrong.
  • They will fixate on mistakes.
  • They always feel the need to be in a relationship.

What does a codependent boss look like?

A codependent boss maybe someone who’s always over-friendly, and like they are trying to be a combination of a best friend, a counselor and a parent… They will frequently invade other people’s personal space.

They can have an unhealthy degree of enmeshment with all the staff. They are likely to be excessively keen – desperately so – to always be the rescuer and everyone’s best buddy.

In an attempt to become this confidant, a codependent boss will often share too much of their own personal life in order to set up intimacy.

It is frequently uncomfortable for the person on the receiving end of these details.

A codependent boss is usually controlling. That is in their overall manner and instructions, as well as how the office has to be kept.

Behind this action is a compulsive need to counteract the unpredictable world they likely grew up in. Being anything like out of control brings back unwelcome feelings.

Because they are seeking approval 24/7, they will work way too much. But they won’t work all these hours without everyone knowing what a great sacrifice they have made.

But because they cannot have any rejection again in their life, they will be suffering from the perpetual fear of making mistakes. The more they work the more likely they are to make a mistake. Even the slightest mistake can lead to an immense overreaction.

But a codependent boss will always find it difficult to own up. So, as well as trying to be a best buddy, they can also be the world’s worst critic.

A codependent boss loves having his staff side with them. It’s always solely about whatever helps them out the most in their search for validation.

Can a codependent person change?

Work success and the decent salaries that bosses earn help a codependent person for a while because it signifies some form of approval. But soon it will stop working because the real solution is an inside job.

With the help of a professional therapist who knows what they’re talking about, a codependent person needs to realize their tendencies for codependency.

A competent counselor will help a codependent person learn how to regain and build their own self-worth from within. 

There are also techniques for establishing healthy boundaries. A counselor can show how taking breaks from work and/or a partner are beneficial.

As well, there are methods in such as how not to take things personally, and to stop critical thinking. The message is that, yes – anyone can be codependent no more.

Contact us today for more details about how our team can help you or anyone you know with codependency issues.

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Adam Nesenoff

Adam Nesenoff has been working in recovery for over ten years.

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