Lousy Leaders Coddle
Coddling leaders are safe; compassionate leaders dangerous.
Coddling, like all leadership behaviors, reflects attitudes about yourself and others. Coddling isn’t compassionate it’s needy, misguided, self-important, and self-propagating.
The more you coddle the more you need to coddle.
Coddlers can’t stand to see others stressed or struggling, but growth and development require both.
Coddling or Compassion:
- Coddling disables. Compassion enables.
- Coddling rejects. Compassion accepts.
- Coddling is doubt. Compassion is trust.
- Coddling is short-term and immediate. Compassion takes the long view.
- Coddling is about your ability. Compassion is about their capacity.
- Codding makes others helpless. Compassion helps less and strengthens more.
- Coddling is doing for. Compassion is doing with, often from a distance.
- Coddling is walking in front, protecting. Compassion is walking behind, supporting.
- Coddling is arrogant, I’m capable and you aren’t. Compassion is humble.
- Coddling makes things safe. Compassion lets danger in.
Downside of experience:
It’s easy for you – but hard for them – so you do it for them.
Experience makes some leaders coddlers.
Experience is insight and confidence gained by struggling through new challenges and opportunities. Experience makes things easier. You know what works. Inexperience, on the other hand, makes things harder. That’s how it’s supposed to be!
Experience is a coddler’s excuse to step in and do for.
But, doing “for,” disables.
Coddled people grow needy, fearful, and dependent, a controlling leaders dream. But, people who work through struggles and stress develop skills, courage, and capacity, a controlling leaders nightmare.
Experience produces courage with discretion.
- Positive intention is always clear. Their highest good always motivates, especially when coddling is rejected.
- Step in reluctantly.
- Step out quickly.
- Don’t save the day when they ask for help. “I think you can handle it,” is better than, “I’ll take care of it.”
- Offer and explore suggestions.
- Prevent catastrophes that damage organizations.
- Provide support structures that don’t include you.
What is the result of coddling leadership?
How can leaders show compassion without coddling?
Sometimes I wonder who you are pandering to?
Great non-coddling answer!!!
You go boy!!!!
Good responce Dan. I always say, “if your not willing to sign it, then don’t say it”…. It’s easy to persucute someone else from the safety of your hiding place.
This is insightful and appreciated.. There is an odd dichotomy in business process, those who are good at something are promoted to manage that activity.. At one level that makes sense, but unless those talents are backfield with managing and leading resources there arises a tension that is exactly what you are pointing to today.
Thanks Ken. You’re experience, like mine, says that when someone knows how to do it better they step in. It’s pretty hard to resist that temptation. Perhaps there is a bit of ego in the motivation to look competent… 🙂
My wise mother says, ‘We so often promote people to the point of incompetence. One step lower and they might be really good at their job!’
Thank you. Very ponient today. I’m afraid I do coddle to much.
Easy to do. The other side of the coin is being too distant and not helpful. It’s a challenging balance.
You’re right, Dan. Coddling just ensures that you continue to do all the work and your leaders stagnate. Great post.
You make me think that the tendency to take on tasks may be sympomatic of coddling. But I love doing stuff??? I guess the idea is don’t take stuff off other people’s plate.
That’s the danger! As a leader, I should be “in the trenches” insofar as I am with my team all the way. But I can’t personally fire all the guns. As my organization progresses, my team will need me to climb out of the trenches anyway– to press the charge or to survey the battlefield.
It’s OK for leaders to roll their sleeves up, but we’ve got to be intentional about developing leaders to do the work we’ve been doing so we can do the work we need to be doing. It’s a cycle that works a leader up to higher levels of productivity and strategy and, eventually, into retirement.
So what I hear you saying us you are not a big fan of coddling????
Yeah learned that questioning technique while working as a substance abuse counselor!
Pretty effective huh?
I feel I can show compassion when I am being honest!! Coddling is a form of dishonesty cause I am hoping the other person is gonna do what I want them to, what they said they were gonna do, what they ought to do.
Hoping is not trusting. Trust comes with connected Why’s. Only way.
Put on some big boy pants and deal with other adults straight up, no messing around.
Connect why’s, build trust, get in with it! Get out of the starting gate and sprint to the finish together. Unconnected why’s just stuck in the starting gate flapping your gums.
Have a great weekend Dan!!!!
Good morning Dan and ‘Happy Saturday’ to ya! I always found coddling demeaning and a bit ‘insulting’. It leaves one with the perception that the (Coddler), never felt you were worthy, or capable, of the task in the first place. Which directly leads to a breakdown in trust. People who genuinly strive to learn, to persevere by pushing themselve’s to overcome challenges and obstacles appreciate sincere authentic compassion, “not lip service’. These are the opporunities where great Leaders take time to help the employee polish and refine thier skills and talents. “What a wonderfully satisfying way to build honest communiuty”! Good post my friend…
Very well said Sarge!!!
I think coddling can be a symptom of today’s business pressures to get immediate results. It is faster if I do it myself than to invest the time to let others learn from the experience. We have to examine what we want our long-term goals to be. As leaders it should be to develop others – that takes investment, resulting in a deferred payback (with interest).
man – coddled someone to help save their job… later they complained to hr they weren’t fairly treated…. go figure…
fair tough love works best…
As Scott says up there, you must not be a coddler!!! I tend to be the antithesis of coddling and compassion sometimes. The wife tends to do the coddling. We are learning to find the compassion point. Great piece, I enjoyed it and its dripping sarcasms. Enjoy the weekend
Enabling bad, trusting good!!!
I liked the comment on Experience is a coddler’s excuse to step in and do for.
But, doing “for,” disables.
I have experienced first hand how a leaders idea of easy creates confusion and discrepancies in expectations. They step in and start micromanaging.
Good stuff Dan!
I enjoy your wisdom. I have learned so much.
I totally agree with this. I experienced much coddling. Coddling leaders can also put undo stress on other employees. They want it done quickly so they make the experienced/capable employees do the work others should be doing. I give you a tool and expect you to use it not come to me to avoid using the process. Why develop manuals and training if employees won’t be held accountable to apply it? If coddling leaders expect the experienced to do it for them, they are setting a bad example and teaching others to be coddling (ineffective) versus compassionate (effective). Soon, they find themselves leading a low performance organization because compassionate employees will seek other opportunities to continue their career and grow.
Thanks for the insight.
The same conversation about coddling leaders being ineffective or downright dangerous can be applied to parents. Too many kids are coddled and they end up feeling entitled and being impatient. They want what they want, and they want it now (hard work be damned!)
I don’t comment often but I do read your posts regularly. We’ve had huge organizational change lately which has significantly increased my team’s stress level. While my intent was to be helpful, I’ve been coddling my team. This post has put things back into perspective and while I’m trying to help and support my team, I now realize I am actually stunting their growth. Thank you for sharing your views and helping me to see the other side of this and many other topics. Your posts and the thoughtful comments by others helps me be a better leader and I am grateful.
Wow, great post Dan. I think you wrote this especially for me.
Thanks for sharing this great post. It is true that knowledge and experience are often on the way of creativity and therefore prevent other people to experiment and grow. We learn from our failures more than from successes.
Compassion unlike coddling encourages people to try new things and to step out of their comfort zone with confidence even if it hurts or if they get some bruises on the way.
You don’t learn to bike by seeing others doing it, falling is part of the learning process and compassion is like the helmet and the protection gear.
“Very well said Anne”! Your comment reminds me of an individual who worked under me in Car sales, back in the 80’s, “a long time ago”! Jim was my Used Car Manager and one heck of a salesman. Jimh however was a ‘know it all’ who would not share his knowledge. Jim needed to be the man with all the answers. My attempts to encourage Jim to share his knowledge and find ways to inspire his sales team fell on deaf ears. Jim’s attitude and reluctance to lead his team properly caused us to lose several very good salesmen, which in the end, cost Jim his job. Within 1 year our used car sales more than doubled. Possessing vast knowledge is great, but only when you share it with others.
As a new non-coddling leader in an established org with a coddling culture, I am finding it very challenging to empower and teach and hold accountable where there remains the expectation that leadership steps in and “helps.” My adapted mission is to slow down, connect better and help drive culture change by showing the why. Thank you for the wisdom!
Coddling isn’t always to “do for” the coddled. It’s also promoted to “minimize weaknesses” (<— that's the excuse I hear from coddlers within my organization). My direct manager coddles one of my managers. He believes he's protecting the organization (keeping my manager happy), helping my manager to succeed (not forcing my manager to do the things he's not good at), and getting work done (allowing my manager to focus on delivery instead of the tasks he doesn't want to perform). However, he is actually hurting my manager and the organization as a whole.
Promoting a coddling environment creates organizational tension, promotes interpersonal jealousies, and builds a dysfunctional environment. It's toxic for everyone.
The timing of this article is appropriate – just last week I decided to no longer enable this behavior within my team. I communicated this to my direct manager (the coddler) and asked for his assistance. I am meeting with my manager (the coddled) early this week. I may lose, but I know I'm doing the right thing.
Love this post! I’m reminded how often good parenting parallels good leadership. So many of the same concepts apply! This one for sure in on that list!
Shortly after hiring me into a major step in my career, my great new boss/mentor saw my coddling leadership style (though he did not call it such). He told me to do all the things that my management team members were not accountable to do in their positions.
Later learned a similar AlAnon idea: Let God and let go. As a leader: Let employees and let go. You will be amazed at the results!
I agree with the concept of coddling leadership. It is dangerous kind of leadership that make people handicapped and less capable. I also believe that coddling leadership style should be exercised sometimes when people need moral support. When people are shattered or boycotted, coddling leadership may work. But, continuous practicing coddling leadership is sure form for failure. I agree that it makes people dependent and fearful. And once, it is developed, it is hard to break boundary. I also believe that coddling leaders are too fearful and have been groomed by coddle leaders. They need security cover to protect their interest. And while creating coddling people they make their safety net more powerful. It means, coddling leaders have their agenda to create their own secure environment. And it is dangerous for the people and organizations.
People can show compassion without coddling through challenging their own assumption. They should gain knowledge and experience. They should understand that ” they treat others the way they like to be treated”. And this is not infact not leadership but manipulative leadership.
I agree with this post as well. A great analogy: In cooking, coddled eggs are gently or lightly cooked eggs. They can be partially cooked, mostly cooked, or hardly cooked at all. Coddling leadership makes no commitment to the learners (which includes one in the leadership position). Each day we ought to inspire ourselves and others to grow.