Speaker 1: Hi, I'm Denise Simpson, a master life and leadership coach who helps women step into their authentic and feminine power. So they can lead like visionaries influence with grace and create a legacy of contribution and service. You'll hear about real leadership clients with real problems, navigating their success in life, business, [00:00:30] and career. If you are ready to become a masterful leader, then this podcast was made for you. So let's get started.
Speaker 1: Welcome back. My friend, let's talk about the leader versus the savior. First of all, this topic is so juicy. It is something I talk often about, and I write [00:01:00] often about the savior complex. We get to see it in ourselves at moments. We also get to see this in other employees and some of our managers and some of our directors, those that are overseeing other employees that fall under our division. And so it's important that we learn what this is and how to identify these behaviors because I, myself personally experienced the savior complex. In my early years of leadership, I was [00:01:30] a chair at a very large community college, and I had over 80 faculty and staff that included classified staff and professional staff and yes, faculty and adjunct faculty. So it was a big group, a really, really big group. And there was one employee in particular and she was my administrative assistant.
Speaker 1: And she and I had obviously a lot of time together. I trusted her with my calendar. [00:02:00] I trusted her with my decisions. I trusted that she would communicate my decisions to my staff. You know, there was a lot of time that we spent together. So I got to know her very, very well. And there were moments where she was vulnerable and shared information with me regarding her family, regarding her upbringing regarding her marriage, regarding her doubts, her lack of confidence, her lack of education. And so [00:02:30] of course my compassion came through more like empathy, actually empathy. When you, when you, you know, fall in the deep end with your, with your clients or your employees in this case. And I fell into the deep end with her and I bought into her story and I, you know, felt some kind of way about her. And it was, it was mostly that I felt sorry for her, sorry that she couldn't do this for herself.
Speaker 1: Sorry that she couldn't, you know, be in a different position [00:03:00] that she wanted just feeling sorry for her feeling like she could not and was not capable of, of doing more for herself. I felt into that narrative that she shared with me. I didn't see her as someone capable. I didn't see her as someone who had the power and who had the privilege to do something about her current circumstances. I really fell into the trap and [00:03:30] my narrative became well, she's weak. She is unable to do this for herself. So I am going to do what I can can to save her from this mess. That was my narrative in my brain. It's what my brain filtered through all of those conversations together. I'm the one who am solely responsible for my perception of her. And I came in with this, save [00:04:00] your complex. Like I'm gonna save you cuz you can't save yourself.
Speaker 1: And I care deeply about you and you may not care about yourself, but I'm gonna save you. I'm gonna show you that, that you can have better, but I'm gonna give it to you. I'm gonna give it to you at my own expense. That's the savior complex. And I found myself entrenched in her stories, entrenched in helping her with her education entrenched in, you know, even providing relationship [00:04:30] advice like really what the hell did I know at that time? I wasn't married. I didn't, I didn't have a solid relationship, but I was helping her quote unquote or more like saving her. And so this savior complex is really important because we fall into this trap, especially when we encounter employees that we may not have hired, right? We may have inherited these employees and their well-meaning employees and we get to like them and our brain gets to create [00:05:00] a narrative about them.
Speaker 1: Um, and we fall into the deep end of the pool with them and there's boundaries that are crossed really. I mean, although we were professional, I never saw her or a family outside of, of the department. I cared deeply about her either way. I was very, very interested in, in her wellbeing. And I think that was the boundary that I crossed within myself. And so the savior complex, and I'm [00:05:30] gonna read you this definition, it's outta the psychology today. It is a psychological construct which makes a person feel the need to save other people. This person has a strong tendency to seek people who desperately need help and to assist them often sacrificing their own needs for these people. Oh my gosh. There's just so much to unpack with this one definition it's [00:06:00] that this person feels a need to save others. And those of us in leadership, I mean, we, we do, we go into leadership for many reasons, right?
Speaker 1: We, we, we think we have the abilities to influence and inspire our people. And sometimes those lines get blurred. Sometimes we think that we're hired to save the company or to clean the mess. Uh, and I, I [00:06:30] hear a lot of leaders say, well, they never had a leader like me before, or they had never had a position this before, until I came on. And there, there are these, these implications that they are there to save their division, their department, their company. And sometimes that gets misconstrued during an interview, right? The interviewer may say, we, you know, we've never had someone like your [00:07:00] caliber with your caliber, with your qualifications, you know, work for us. So my goodness. Wow. We're just so lucky to have you. And, and we just can't wait for you to start. I mean, my goodness, you're gonna save this department and we're just so happy to have you and we'd be lucky to, will you please accept, you know, this position and this salary and, and you say, well, yeah, okay, wow, no one's ever said that to me and okay, well now I have to prove my worth.
Speaker 1: I have to prove that [00:07:30] I'm here to save someone, save the department. So sometimes our brains process this information and we've filter it the best way our brains know how. And, and sometimes it is in this savior like complex. Another part of this definition I wanna read to you is that this person has a strong tendency to seek people who desperately need, need help [00:08:00] and to assist them. So what I want for us to do is look at our personal relationships, our intimate relationships are we in relationships where we are the ones saving the other. We feel like we are the ones that can save them from themselves and we're gonna do whatever we, we have to do. Maybe even sacrifice seen our own needs to save them. You know, a lot of high potential high achieving women like us. We, because we're so [00:08:30] strong.
Speaker 1: And because we have so many resources and because we have, we have great capacity for nurturing and helping others. Times we find ourselves in relationships where we're here to save our partners, save our lovers, save our spouses, or I'm gonna save them. I'm gonna marry them and, and I'm gonna change them. They will be saved. So pay close attention to those relationships. Maybe even with friendships. My gosh, [00:09:00] I had a girlfriend where I felt like she couldn't do anything for herself and that I had to save her. And, and this he of arrogance of I'm better than her. I have more capabilities than her and I love I'm gonna save her. So there again, boundaries crossed all because of how I interpreted and, and perceived her as my friend. And thank goodness. We're no longer friends. I think she saw right through that. She's like, [00:09:30] I don't need saving and you gotta go.
Speaker 1: Um, but I want for us to pay close attention to those relationships, the ones that we care most about the intimate ones, the personal ones, our friendships pay close attention to what we're doing. Even with our children. You know, a lot of us have kids where we go, wow, I'm just gonna tell him what to do because he just, he, he can't get it. He won't get it for himself. He'll never get it. So I'm just gonna tell him what he needs to do. He needs so much saving. [00:10:00] I mean, I don't know about you, but there are a lot of moms outta here that probably feel us that way. I'm just gonna save my kid. We do everything we can to save our children, right. To save our partners, to save our friendships. And so pay closer to tension to those behaviors. Are you in any of those situations right now?
Speaker 1: And if, if you are in a leadership position, careful where you see the most vulnerable [00:10:30] in your, under your supervision, right? Who are the most vulnerable, who are the, who are the most challenged? And we always find a handful of employees that need a little extra attention, and we will perceive that they need our saving and, and it could start out as innocently as they need help. This is the season that they need the most help in a, you know, my goodness, I, I, [00:11:00] they can't save themselves out of this predicament. So I'm just gonna step in and micromanage the hell out of them. So that's a very good sign that you are in this savior complex. So two things that I want for you to keep in mind is that number one, you cannot control your employee's actions. You can't, we cannot control their actions.
Speaker 1: We can inspire, we can influence. We can definitely [00:11:30] persuade, but it's ultimately up to them to take that action. And so once we release that, that idea that we can control other that will really put your brain at rest, like, well, since I can't control anybody, and that is true, I can't control anyone. I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna help guide them. I'm gonna inspire and influence and, and coach them through this process. But I won't save them. I cannot, it's not, it's not even [00:12:00] possible to save them because they ultimately have control of their actions. So that's one thing I want you to remember. The second thing I want you to keep in mind is when you are acting as a safe, you're doing it for them. You're, you're micromanaging them. You are not letting them take responsibility for their success or their failures.
Speaker 1: I want for you to pull back and remember that you're not there to create for them and know not to control them. You are [00:12:30] there to help them learn from their exp. And sometimes they will succeed on their own. And sometimes they will fail on their own, but it's ultimately about taking responsibility. They taking responsibility and you can start those conversations early on in your tenure, where you tell them I'm here to guide you. I'm actually gonna coach you most of the time. I try trust you. And I, I hold you responsible for all of your actions. Your [00:13:00] successes are on you. And so will your failures be, but I'll be here to counsel you and I'll be here to guide you, my friend, this is what the best leaders do. Okay? So those are the first two things. The last thing that I want for you to keep in mind so that you can avoid the savior trap is this idea that humans are whole resourceful and complete just the way they are.
Speaker 1: So whether you inherited them or you are inviting them to work for you, [00:13:30] please remember that they are whole just the way they are they're are resourceful. They will figure things out for themselves and for the organization and my friend, they are complete complete. You hired them for a reason. They were hired by a, a predecesor for a reason, they have the qualifications, they have the, the, the skills that's needed it. And of course, as you evaluate them, there may be some gaps and you'll help them with that. [00:14:00] But already knowing that they're whole resourceful and complete will help you stand back. It'll help you set boundaries. It'll help you redefine what you fi what you think saving is right. Redefining what helpfulness is and caring is so that you don't find yourself saving them when they really don't need any saving. All right, my friend, I hope you found today's episode, [00:14:30] powerful, short, but powerful. Trust your people. Trust yourself to lead them and not to save them. They don't need the saving. All right, my friend, I hope you have a fantastic week. Stay tuned next week for another great episode. Take good care. Bye for now.
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