Lousy Leaders Coddle

coddling kitten

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:

  1. Coddling disables. Compassion enables.
  2. Coddling rejects. Compassion accepts.
  3. Coddling is doubt. Compassion is trust.
  4. Coddling is short-term and immediate. Compassion takes the long view.
  5. Coddling is about your ability. Compassion is about their capacity.
  6. Codding makes others helpless. Compassion helps less and strengthens more.
  7. Coddling is doing for. Compassion is doing with, often from a distance.
  8. Coddling is walking in front, protecting. Compassion is walking behind, supporting.
  9. Coddling is arrogant, I’m capable and you aren’t. Compassion is humble.
  10. 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.

Successful compassion:

  1. Positive intention is always clear. Their highest good always motivates, especially when coddling is rejected.
  2. Step in reluctantly.
  3. Step out quickly.
  4. 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.”
  5. Offer and explore suggestions.
  6. Prevent catastrophes that damage organizations.
  7. Provide support structures that don’t include you.

What is the result of coddling leadership?

How can leaders show compassion without coddling?