Organizational Definition of Codependency

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Photo by the Author

A corrosive threat to building teams is “Codependency.” A term used prominently within the addictions field, the behavior has wider meanings within leading individuals and teams. The basic idea of codependency in organizations is it defeats responsibility, initiative and the health of operations.

Codependency as “under functioning”
When team members are codependent, there is an imbalance in responsibility between members. Norms develop where doing the minimum is silently permitted. Unhealthy alliances develop, and fear of confronting the inequity or dysfunction in the team stifles the group.

Codependency as incompetence
Those that want to appear capable (but lack substance) hide behind a cloak of saying what is necessary or saying what they think others want to hear.

Codependence is fake acceptance
A distorted sense of acceptance occurs when the objective is agreed upon, but the words (commitment) does not match the results. The leader wants good results and accepts the stated intentions, that do not correspond to an individual team member’s actual behavior.

Codependence as rational lies
The use of rational lies (aka rationalization), itself is a form of team and individual betrayal. To avoid accountability a team member uses rationalization and excuses to avoid personal responsibility.

All these organizational definitions of codependency can be corrosive to objectives and the mission. Rampant codependency can significantly lead to human resource costs and deceased morale.

The Power of A Question

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When teams function best is when individual team members dare to ask questions of their leaders. To challenge indicates a commitment toward engagement, and a willingness to connect to the organization’s vision.

Questions suggest team engagement because:

1. It means the individual team member cares enough about their individual contribution.

2. Questions indicate that a team contributor is interested in doing rather than complaining.

3. New ideas might be imbedded in the question.

4. Through a question, the process of learning is occurring.

A leader should be very concerned with their team when people stop asking questions. It means that a member’s commitment is waning, a team member is not engaged with the vision, or the leader’s direction lacks clarity.

The worse case scenario when questioning is abandoned – is a sort of complacency where mediocrity is accepted and the program becomes a drifting entity.

Managers and leaders ought to encourage and welcome thoughtful questions by their teams. It’s the most reliable indicator regarding the health of an organization or program, including the teams that compose those areas.

Letting Go – Reducing the Unnecessary in your life

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A common problem that I often encounter in the behavioral health clinic these days is the difficulty that others have to let go or move beyond emotional blockages to growth. Typically, these are a root cause of the anxiety, stress overload, and depression that generally presents as the problem. Non-clinical populations also exhibit the common problem of letting go, and may never manifest all the symptoms that lead to presentation for treatment. It appears that cultural conditioning, the social mirror, and the myriad of expectations both internal and external contribute to the problem.

Today, there are many, many influences in our lives. Some of them are simply taking up emotional and mental space, and thus need to be cleared, so we can focus on the most important things in our lives.

In the business and organizational world, the problem of letting go, is pervasive. In our driven world steep in high expectations, and underlying demands – both internal to the person and from others, it is sometimes a hidden problem that keeps us hostage to the things that we can simply let go of.

The problem is widespread, but like a computer CPU, we need a little soft reset, and that requires us to delete a few “unnecessary files” in our brains, thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. The work required on a personal level goes well beyond the suggestions here. There is often a journey required to let go of unnecessary issues, feelings, thoughts or behaviors. The items below are a sampling of things that may be key things to “let go”:

1. Personal slights
2. Old mistakes, guilt, shame
3. Unmet expectations
4. Current mistakes (what can we learn from them?)
5. Difficult personalities
6. Relationships – both personal and professional that are dragging us down
7. Excessive spending, poor diet, self-sabotaging habits
8. The past – which does not add positive memories

These of course, are not exhaustive. But you get the point. The concept to remember is that: The items above are preventing positive movement ahead. They are holding us hostage emotionally, behavioral, or through our thinking patterns. They are dulling our senses.

    Beginning steps to letting go of the unnecessary can include the following:

1. Identify what needs to be let go – Is it a thought, behavior, or a change in your job?

2. Ask yourself: What impact on my life will this make? Why is it important to let go?

3. Identify your support system. Create an accountability system that can support you through the changes that will occur once something is changed. More difficult things to let go – require more support. Supports can be personal and professional. Perhaps consulting with a trusted colleague.

4. Stressors, personal slights, negative cognitions, require more fortitude. It may require us to stop our negative thoughts, change a self-sabotaging behavior, or simply apologize to someone and rebuild a relationship.

Finally, consider the enormous payoff you will feel and experience when you let go of unnecessary things and situations in your life that weigh you down. Sometimes thoughts about the prospective payoff can be very motivating to make the change. Having deeper values and mission about the why, will help drive you toward how and what of any change you make.

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