Do you know there are heaps of managers out there who have a strong Dependency Characteristic in their personality? It keeps them seeking the approval of others and puts limits on their management potential and how much they can achieve by their own initiative.
“Individuals with Dependent Personality Disorder are often characterized by pessimism and self-doubt, tend to belittle their abilities and assets, and may constantly refer to themselves as “stupid.” They take criticism and disapproval as proof of their worthlessness and lose faith in themselves. They may seek overprotection and dominance from others.” Psychcentral
Do you feel like you have very little control over your destiny, that very little you do counts, and that your efforts have very little value and certainly don’t influence your future? It’s probable you are exhibiting some dependant behaviours to compensate for this. These dependant behaviours are how you manage risk. A perceived risk of rejection, of damage to your self-esteem and to your credibility. Sometimes dependant behaviours are a result of significant changes in your life, e.g. a new job, a broken relationship. These can trigger a change in your normal pattern of behaviour and are hopefully short-lived, fading away as you rebuild your confidence and self-esteem. Sometimes these behaviours are long-term and engrained and you need to be able to recognise them and to take measures to reduce them in order for you to reach your full potential.
How do I know if I am displaying dependant behaviour? According to PsychCentral, a dependant person:
“Has difficulty making everyday decisions without an excessive amount of advice and reassurance from others
Needs others to assume responsibility for most major areas of his or her life
Has difficulty expressing disagreement with others because of fear of loss of support or approval
Has difficulty initiating projects or doing things on his or her own (because of a lack of self-confidence in judgment or abilities rather than a lack of motivation or energy)
Goes to excessive lengths to obtain nurturance and support from others, to the point of volunteering to do things that are unpleasant
Feels uncomfortable or helpless when alone because of exaggerated fears of being unable to care for himself or herself
Urgently seeks another relationship as a source of care and support when a close relationship ends
Is unrealistically preoccupied with fears of being left to take care of himself or herself”
These are really tough burdens to carry at home or at work and are definitely going to impact your relationships in both environments. Imagine being a leader and suffering from these nagging personality traits. Every time you make a management decision you look nervously at your team and wonder if you’ve done the right thing or whether this will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back … Is this the decision that will make everything fall apart?
Really dependant managers, who don’t believe that their efforts count, tend to shy away from taking control of situations. They are disinclined to question and challenge, which debilitates development. They seek direction from others and need more validation than normal for their efforts.
Dependant managers might be neatly wrapped in a style that can be construed as being empathic and sensitive to the feelings and needs of other, and as being modest, highly collaborative and tactful. As much as these characteristics, with the right foundation, are admirable indeed and highly valuable in leadership, if they are just a mask for a personality with a shaky foundation then action is required – and now.
What about you? I can’t just tell you, you have to decide for yourself
How do you rate? Do you often quietly or even loudly doubt yourself? Do you remember the last time you took the lead on a decision? Do you recall a time where you shut up and did as you were told, although you knew you were following the other Lemmings to the cliff top. You have to ask yourself these difficult questions and be honest with yourself.
And now you need to do something for yourself
If you’re suffering from dependency characteristics then you can think about the following to help gradually change your behaviour.
- Learn something new and celebrate your success by talking about it.
- Watch what you say. When you make a suggestion, congratulate yourself, challenge an idea, don’t then add a whole bunch of qualifiers beginning with “but”, or, “it was luck”, “it was a fluke”, “it’s only my opinion” and so on. Like not punctuating every sentence with ummm, you can learn to identify these qualifiers and to stop them in their tracks.
- Stop apologising.
- Set yourself achievable goals and track your successes.
- Trust your decisions and live with the outcomes.
- And remember that only you determine your reaction to any situation. It may all be very subconscious, but it is you that is feeding your insecurities or your confidence.
As with all of these behavioural change challenges, its impossible to change unless you have self-awareness – it is important to understand why you need to change and what the benefit is, and then it’s critical you plan and set yourself some goals.
What do you think?