After all, you know how to spy a narcissistic boss. They’re divas enthralled by their own voices, clamoring for the adoration of crowds, and surrounded by folks they regard as their minions who must avoid their spotlight or get the chop. As the movie Dirty Dancing almost said, “Nobody puts the narcissist in the corner.” Other ways to spot a narcissistic boss include: they hate being interrupted; detest being disagreed with; and when they joke, you’d better laugh. Narcissists can be charming at first. But similar to leaving cheese languishing in the sun — after a while, they can get up your nose. Narcissistic bosses and codependent bosses are quite different.
Here’s how to spot a severely codependent boss:
1. They’re Perfectionists
Many codependent bosses grew up deprived of love in households where caregivers gave them inconsistent or consistently scarce emotional support. The upshot? Many of them would have:
- Attempted to parent themselves.
- Regarded many adults as untrustworthy.
- Taken on tasks that caring adults should have done for them.
- Experienced feelings of low self-worth that would have made them believe falsely that they are ill-suited to society, when we are each more alike than we often assume (your DNA sequence is about 99.9 percent identical to any person whom you care to mention, from Madonna to Floyd Mayweather to that chap that lives next door).
Codependent bosses who carry the above beliefs into their workplaces, instead of jettisoning them earlier, often:
- Micromanage their staff.
- Overburden themselves with responsibilities that could be delegated.
- Make their staff feel anxious by promoting the perfectionist’s belief that “Humans do not err.”
If you’re searching for employment and you’ve been researching companies on websites like Glassdoor, the following comments may indicate the presence of a severely codependent boss:
“The boss hoards all of the plum assignments.”
“This place doesn’t innovate; mistakes are not to be tolerated.”
2. They’re Insomniacs
The unattainable pursuit of perfectionism by codependent bosses heightens their already high anxiety causing them … (you’ve guessed it) insomnia. These exhausted bosses can improve the quality of their sleep by delegating more of their workload and by dedicating themselves to better self-care. But their wooly thinking, caused partly by sleep deprivation, combined with their perfectionist’s pursuit often leads them to work longer hours.
Many of these bosses falsely believe: “When I work 8 hours per day, I produce 8 units of productivity. Should I work 16 hours per day, I’ll produce 16 units of productivity.” But people are not robots: and even robots break.
On Glassdoor, look for comments like:
“My coffee-chugging boss has bags under his eyes and mood swings.”
“My boss brags about her lack of sleep on Twitter. But she looks like the walking dead.”
3. They Struggle to Build Healthy Relationships at Work and at Home
Severely codependent bosses often believe:
- “I’ll never be good enough.”
- “I must work harder.”
- “I must care for others even when I’m not tending to myself.”
The above false beliefs and critical self-talk can result in codependent bosses struggling to find balance, comfort, and respect in their work- and private-relationships. At work, the above beliefs fuel workaholism, a serious compulsive disorder that individuals often turn to in their attempts to wall off feelings of anxiety and sadness, that they feel ill-equipped to deal with. While at home, workaholism hinders the development of emotional intimacy between adults who wish to share loving impulses.
On Glassdoor look for reviews like:
“If you work here, don’t expect a personal life. My boss arrives at the office at 6 a.m. and leaves at 8 p.m. ”
“When my husband was sick, I was told to stay at work and not to go home.”