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-What does codependency look like in CEOs and leaders?

-How can work culture and company values mask codependent behavior in leaders and staff?

-What’s underneath a codependent CEOs behavior? And how can they begin to address it?

Welcome to Episode 146! This week, Melissa Bennett-Heinz is back to expose the codependent behavior plaguing leaders and CEOs. We often do not associate ‘codependent’ with the title of CEO, however, Melissa shares with us about how work culture and company values enable codependent behavior like people-pleasing, self-sacrifice, and prioritize the needs of others (i.e., the company) above oneself. Melissa describes the codependent patterns of CEOs and what is often underneath those behaviors, including low self-esteem, boundary issues, and conflict avoidance. We conclude with hearing the initial steps Melissa takes with her CEO clients to help them break their codependent patterns. It’s a must-listen!

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Melissa Bennett-Heinz is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in the states of New York, Washington, Texas, and North Carolina and has over 20 years of specialized training and experience in the treatment of PTSD, sexual trauma, childhood abuse, chronic mental illness, and mood and anxiety disorders. Melissa primarily works with adults in both individual and group settings with people who are highly educated and successful, C-Suite executives who appear to have it together and are “happy” but are stuck in old relational patterns, struggle with perfectionism, relationships, and codependency.
Melissa’s first interview on Codependummy:

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We begin with revisiting Melissa’s definition of codependency and what she has to add today: every relationship has codependency in it, whether it is with a person, children, or an entity like a company/group. The word ‘codependent’ is an attempt to explain a relaitnship dynamic that can go bad, however, there is healthy codependency and unhealthy codependency. Parents, for example, often display codependent behavior that is categorically healthy.

We revisit Melissa’s previous interview where she shared about a codependent interaction returning her shopping cart at ALDI. Today, she reflects on her codependency as her own CEO of her private practice. As her own boss, she has had to find how she holds boundaries with her business while being fluid with them. Her anecdote about a client who was unable to afford a recent fee raise is the perfect example of how boundaries are relative and not always one-size-fits-all.

We shift focus to one of Melissa’s specialties: working with CEOs and leaders. She describes codependent behavior in this population, including sacrificing their own needs for the needs of the company. Due to company values, codependent behavior is masked through team work, employee engagement, and customer service.

Melissa then contrasts the external behaviors of CEOs and leaders to what is going on underneath: their external motivation and fixation on company success is often derived from their low self-esteem; their servitude, selflessness, and self-sacrifice is rooted in their need for power and control; their people-pleasing and customer service is connected with their insecurity; and their enmeshment with employees is the consequence of their boundary issues. Melissa emphasizes how their key to failure is trying to please everyone.

We conclude with hearing how Melissa begins her work to address the codependent behavior in her CEO clients. Due to the stigma of codependency, Melissa starts slow and helps them shift their focus on their problems to their feelings. She helps them find ways to give voice to what is feeding the behavior and educates them on shame, guilt, and fear. Through her work using Gestalt therapy, her clients are able to get back to a healthier place and lead in a more integrated manner.

Thanks for coming on Melissa! And thank you for listening, my dear listener!
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