I can still find my way around grocery stores but I don’t do the shopping anymore. I used to see young moms with toddlers tugging on their pant legs. It was cute to me but not always to them.
You can love someone and, at the same time, hope they leave you alone, at least for a while.
In leadership, somebody’s always tugging. The more they need, the more important you’ve become. Or at least it seems that way.
Needy leaders need to be needed.
Needy leaders make themselves central and indispensable. They’re always signing off on the next order of #2 pencils and paper for the copier. Feel the power!
Needy leaders need to:
- Bask in the spotlight of admiration.
- Exercise authority.
- Control. Supplicants make them feel powerful.
Effective leaders give what needy leaders need.
Needy leaders need things that prevent leadership.
- Get in touch with neediness. Whisper, “I’m needy,” in your own ear. Talk it over with trusted advisors. The more you see it, the better you’ll be at step two.
- Give what you need. Act otherwise. When you feel the need for praise, give it.
- Accept frailties. We never improve what we can’t accept.
- Welcome support. Needy leaders reject support, they can’t look weak. The more I move away from neediness the more support rises around me.
- Develop structures and systems that free. Establish boundaries, and let the children play.
- Enable more; control less.
The more essential you are, the less effective you’ve become. Successful leaders develop followers who need them less as time passes.
Tugging toddler-followers may make you feel important, but you aren’t, you’re needy.
Their neediness reflects your neediness.
They won’t act without you because you don’t want them to.
How have you handled your neediness?
How can needy leaders move away from neediness?
Amen and amen. Effective leaders empower the culture around them and celebrate their abilities, guide and mentor when new growth supports additional care yet always with the intent of purposeful independence for the new realm of engagement in leadership. To engage in excellence encourages each of us to enter into a place of encouragement of each person’s gifts while personifying your own.
Thank you Sweetie M Berry. You last sentence really packs a punch. … encourage each person’s gifts while personifying your own.
Thanks for leaving your first contribution.
I googled “needy leaders” after doing some self reflection this weekend. I’m in network marketing and only seem to attract needy people who need their hand held. It’s not very fun or fulfilling. I know from previous experience that we project onto others the qualities that we possess within ourselves. Once I applied it to my business I was slapped with the fact that my needy followers are a direct reflection of my neediness. Your article confirmed this for me. Thank you so much. Awareness is half the battle, right? 🙂
Absolutely spot on. The CEO of a company I used to work for signed the purchase orders for coffee. He turned me (Marketing Director) into an 8 year old child within weeks.
We never got anything done because he was always too busy to tell me what to do.
I put up with it for over a year, then finally managed to negotiate my way into another role where I didn’t have to deal with him.
Interesting to ponder where the neediness comes from. In his case he was quite short, and I reckon he got bullied at school. His whole business was an ego trip for him.
Thanks for a very thought provoking post.
Thank you Michael.
Hey, you aren’t putting down the coffee order, are you? 😉
Thanks for a powerful illustration. I’m thinking ego must be a central component in the life of needy leaders… I know it is in me, when I’m a needy leader.
Good morning Michael, couple of things, first just my opinion and just want you to know my final result where responsibility is concerned is my own death. If I am dishonest with myself about who is responsible for what I do in my life the consequence is death. I am motivated highly in this area.
Having said that and Dan if you feel I am out of line or overstepping my bounds you have my sincere permission to delete my opinion and no feelings hurt. This subject is my wheelhouse and wanted to share a little and maybe share some insight.
Ok Michael, just food for thought. You said he turned you into an 8 year old child. Wasn’t maybe the way you chose to react to the situation a childlike response? The way he is is him, the way you react and adjust to him is you. You can’t change him but you can adjust your response to him. Yes, no, maybe?
He was to busy to tell you what to do. Could instead of letting that stop you could you have looked at your job description and just get to it. Did he hire you as the guy to wait for him to tell you what to do or his Marketing Director? Go Market Director!
I am asking this cause I am in a similar position. I do not get a ton of direction…..it is kinda if it is meant to be it is up to me. I in the beginning was waiting around to be told what to do, then I figured out they hired me to figure it out and get it done! They thought enough of me they think I can get it done without too much interference from them! PLUS that gives them plenty of time to do what they want to do. See the shift? aka shifterp
I excercised responsibility……response-ability, not look to blame others for the situation. To see what was going on and what I needed to do to maximise ME. Once I did that I could really concentrate on what I could get done and enjoy the freedom of not being micromanaged which makes me goofy.
Seems to me and again if you hate me for putting up a mirror OK! And again Dan if you think I am out of place that is coolio too. This just what I have done in similar situations that have really helped me out.
You said after a year you got away from him. Next time you find yourself in a situation like that is it possible to just go do what you need to instead of waiting for whoever to give you direction. Isn’t Leadership getting the general idea and then it is up to you to get er done?
Lastly, then I will quit. You mentioned where his neediness comes from and you talked about him and his issues a bunch. How does that help you? When a kid is on a surfboard and falls off he says what? Bad wave? How does that help him? What will help is for him to develop his own balance and that can’t happen if he does nothing but study and think about the badness of the wave. Yes, no, maybe?
I drink I die. I make all the reasons OUTWARDLY why I can justify that first drink. Bottom line it is simple, it is not what happens in my world that counts, it is how I choose to preceive what is happening and then how I choose to respond to said circumstances.
29 years in May, on the 22nd and nothing but success using this strategy.
Ok if I don’t get kicked out of the blog for my bluntness and honesty my true desire is to try to share how my experiences have taught me and hope it helps someone else.
Always a pleasure Scott. Thank you
Thanks for your comment Scott. You make some good points about personal choices, choosing my response etc. All very valid in theory, and I make them all the time when I work with others developing their leadership skills.
What you don’t have, of course, is the context, on which to make your input. You don’t know what choices I made initially and the strategies I used to make our relationship more fruitful. To make such a lengthy input on what I did wrong based on so little information comes across to me, frankly, as arrogant.
That, along with the well worn phrases lifted from decades-old self-help books and the somewhat patronising tone of your input (just holding up the mirror here, hope Dan doesn’t kick me out for doing it) make me somewhat resistant to your comments. Maybe it will help someone else, but sorry, it didn’t help me
Truth goes through three stages.
2. Violently opposed
3. Accepted as self evident
It is often more helpful not to know many details especially when the answers are so simple and obvious. Outsiders don’t get bogged down with unimportant details.
You talked about all your boss did in your post and almost nothing about what you did about it. Is this making any sense? This happened how long ago and it still bothers you?
Maybe I am the only one willing to say it but I promise I am not the only one who noticed.
I think it might be more helpful for you to look in the mirror cause you reacted to my attempt to help you in the same reactionary manner you described with your boss. Again trying to be helpful and if you feel attacked by that then that is all coming from you.
The common thing with both reactions is they were yours. I meant no harm and yes I respect Dan because it is his blog and a good man.
Regret my sincere attempt to help you seems to have missed the mark.
It seems needy leaders are driven by their needs. And drive to move is motivation. Leaders have strong motivation. Similarly every one is driven by ones inner drive.Now, these drives create impact on surroundings. Some drives are self focused, some are others focused, some are mixed etc. And I think, leaders can be effective when their needs create impact and connect with others need. This can be done is two ways- Either addressing the issues in needs, or convincing others following leaders need. But there is danger to this. In both the cases, leaders should not appear greedy. It means needy leaders with greedy intention create chaos. But needy leaders with selfless intention crates clarity and connectivity.
I believe to connect and align with others need. I believe in debating, discussing and convincing without feel them insulted, about the needs. This way, I will try to connect with them. I also believe that needy leaders focusing on issues should manage people perception about needs. People should feel and perceive your needs their needs. When leaders are able to do this, they are effective and successful.
Thank you Ajay. So much to think about in your comment.
First, I love a well turned phrase and “Needy leaders are driven by their needs,” captures it.
Thanks for adding the place of connecting and aligning with the needs of others. It made me realize that when I’m focused on my needs I can’t align with yours. KaPow
When I remember back to when I was a manager, I cringe at the thought that I may have been like this or that without realising. Glad it’s being pointed out now. 🙂
Thank you Stuartart… You made me think about the times when I get angry that someone points out something I don’t like … the anger indicates there’s an issue.
I was on a BOD of an organization with a needy ED. People who are good at solving problems need problems to solve. Not an effective leadership strategy, but did give me the chance to practice another good (at times) leadership skill, “Boat Rocking”. Thanks for a great post! 🙂
Thank you Sunhfarm. Absolutely love “People who are good at solving problems need problems to solve.” How does it go… If all you have is a hammer everything’s a nail.??? There’s always a down side to a strength because strength limit.
Give what you need – what an awesome thought…
Yes awesome, be the solution to the problem you found. Don’t whine about it, get it fixed!
I person that is needy is suffering from a self esteem issue. I know, because I can be very needy. And, it is not at all attractive.
I have to change the conversation in my head, and lean on God. When you do this, you replace needy with trusting.
So much better!
For you (i write this for me) that struggle with being too needy: http://toddliles.com/struggling-with-self-esteem.html
Honored by you candor. Thank you. I’ve heard it said that the most powerful thing we have is our story.
Good for you Todd. You might find reading the greatest salesman in the world helpful and you got to read the greatest miracle in the world too! I did and can’t recall anything that helped me with self esteem than what you will find in the greatest miracle. That is if you do it like I did. Only person I ever met who followed what that book suggests. It was very difficult and I did it and the benefits are still bearing fruit in my life.
I really hope you get those books and you read them and it helps you.
Hope it’s OK, just want to say your posts have been so timely each day this week. In “Thanks-I-Needed-That” style. Cheers
A good word is a treat. Thank you.
This a great post as usual Dan. The point is one that I think is not addressed enough. Thank you!
Thanks Tina.. Perhaps it’s so uncomfortable that we can only take it in small doses. 🙂 Have a great weekend.
I was a frustrated follower of such a self imagined leader of puppets.
I say this clearly, to show to your audience the back of the medal: how much suffering they inflict to people deliberately trying to undermine the self-esteem of subordinates and the hate they will receive back forever.
Leadership is not for everyone, people who seek power to protect their ego (warning signal: does he wants to be right at cost of lying?) should not be followed, because they will drive you nowhere.
Most of us have seen neediness grip leaders. Thanks for pointing to the pain neediness causes.
Feel your pain!
Reminded me of a great story…either Anthony Robbins or Napolean Hill…will paraphrase…
These two guys in an elevator..one African American, one Cacausian racist.
The racist looks with down at the other man and says shine my shoes. The other guy gets his hankie out of his shirt and runs the guys shoes. Other people in elevator tell story and it gets around.
African American man, by the way this was in Chicago and the guy was a well known and highly respected man in the community. When asked about why he did what he did he tells his wife he did not see the racist intent, he just figured the guy needed help with something!
Back to me writing….maybe the racist was too fat to reach his feet?
The point is u are only upset if u are upset-able. I am not a victim. I am a volunteer. They can’t push my button unless I let them close to it.
It is not what happens to you that matters to u. It is how you choose to perceive what happens that counts. Then what u choose to do about it.
I am sharing this as much to remind myself as much as anything.
The Dude Abides.
thanks for the insight you share with me.
but what is the limit beyond which it is no more right to indulge?
if all African-Americans had to bend without question and without giving value to dignity, would they have a better life today?
I think that in fact the correct conclusion of the principle being exposed by you, which I agree, is to refuse to follow a leader who can’t help you to grow, even if that comes at a cost.
I’m not a leader, but I lead mysef to choose the best leader I can find.
Dude you are the Leader of your life!!!! You Rock whether u like it or not!!!!!
Everyone follows someone! Patton had to answer to the President! The President answers to the Senate and the Congress. We all answer to somebody!!!!
One thing I do is no matter what I am doing give it my best shot. Works, REPEAT it as often as possible! What doesn’t seem to work try a couple more times to make sure I am barking up the wrong tree, then try something else.
Plus I start everyday figuring it is gonna be my last. I got 12 or 15 hours to ROCK!!!!
I am a walking talking miracle and should have overdosed or died in a car accident long ago so every second I got is borrowed time so I love my life with eternal gratitude.
A gratitude list is great! If I really need an attitude adjustment I take off my clothes and stare at myself in a mirror. Full length! Doesn’t take long for that to change my attitude. If it doesn’t I turn sideways. That always works to change my perspective.
The other thing is just realize every body else here is stumbling through this life thing just like you.
On the surface it may appear they all got their little duckies in a row. Not! When it is dark and they are alone they are just as confused as you!
Once you realize we are all just nixies on the bus it might help you ease up.
Watching The Big Lebowski over and over helps too. Go to a soup kitchen and help feed others. See others have it much worse than you, cause most do!
Lastly All can teach you if what you really want is to learn. Some what to do and some what not to do. My perception is all up to me.
I am WAY out if the box and not sure if any if that helped you at all! If not what did you ask me for? What were you thinking? Are you serious(McEnroe reference).
If u did help OF COURSE I did, I Rock!!!!!
It is all a crap shoot. Give it all you got. Get to your last breath all used up! Live before you die!!!!! Find out you are capable of much more than u ever imagined. Treat others like you would like to be treated.
Other that that….
The Dude Abides
Great post again Dan.
I start with knowing myself and knowing the biggest room in my house is my room for improvement. Handle my neediness first by breathing. Fear false evidence appearing real doesn’t disturb me as much as the years pass. Most of what I worried about never came about! Just realize sometimes in this human experience I am going to feel needy and do not get overly impressed with that feeling anymore. Try to figure out what I really need and see if I can get it.
People develop their personalities I believe around the age of 10. How others can move away from neediness? Find others who have done that and do what they did!
Have a great day Dan and everyone else!
You’ve outdone yourself today with all you contributions. Thank you. And here, you give us a glimpse of your own journey. 🙂
Love the suggestion of finding those who have moved from neediness. Nicely put. I’m not sure it’s overcome…but we can move from it…
Dan, excellent reminders. I put these folks in the similar light to ‘controllers’. Holding on to pieces of their job, not developing people, not building capacity in others. It’s not really about them doing it better and faster. It’s often about their own securities. In the end, needy, or controlling, others are left dissatisfied and frustrated – the better ones tend to leave. What would it take to let go? What might you gain?
Thank you Jim… you added new insights into both symptoms and results of neediness. Your angle on this expands my thinking.
Hey Dan, it may be metaphysically impossible to have a two sided mirror that you can see through, but…that is what I think I saw with your post. Or was it just a reflection….?
Leaders, if willing to look, reflect in those led, themselves. And there definitely is that magnetic-like attraction (hopefully not moth to flame) for people to seek out and work for someone with an aligned reflection.
How to handle, would that I could just let go, but it seems to be a case of leaning into it for a bit, identifying it, making some current state sense of it and then seeing what can be freed. Although freeing/letting go may run counter to what I believe I need even if that may be a false perception.
Often what is needed is time and space, course having a mentor/coach or even a LF blog point out that my new duds are pretty flimsy helps too…whether I like it or not! Thanks Dan!
Thank you Doc.
Every finger I point, points to me. It’s true here. “The more I move away from neediness the more support rises around me.”
Your two sided mirror comment captures the difficulty and opportunity of seeing ourselves when we see those around us. It’s a bit unnerving.
The wisdom of “lean into it for a bit,” shines. The expression, “for a bit” helps us see that we take this medicine in small doses for obvious reasons.
Sometimes I think you see too much. 🙂
> Successful leaders develop followers who need them less as time passes. < HOMERUN!
An affirmation fuels a fire. 🙂
Dan. Mind-Blown. The best, simply the best, most insightful read. Thank YOU.
Dear Scott: you are the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. You are free!