Leadership Coaching and the Rescuer Syndrome: How to Manage Both Sides of the Couch

29 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2010  

Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries

INSEAD - Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise

Date Written: December 9, 2010

Abstract

In this article I explore the problem of excessive helping behavior — The Rescuer Syndrome — with particular reference to executive coaching. I also discuss co-dependency between coach and client and question whether these ‘rescuers,’ in their need to help, really help their clients. Do the rescuers themselves need to be rescued? I examine the origins of compulsive helping behavior, including rescuers’ early family dynamics. The indicators of this dysfunctional behavior pattern will be explored, including strategies for dealing with the Rescuer Syndrome. I end with a description of the constructive rescuer, explaining how a better understanding of this specific behavior pattern can contribute to greater awareness of the intensity of the rescuer within. The expectation is that this kind of knowledge will increase coaching effectiveness.

Keywords: Rescuer Syndrome, Co-dependency, Coach-coachee Relationships, Disease to Please, Addiction, Saying "No", Rescuer Burnout, Constructive Rescuer, Transference-countertransference Reactions

Suggested Citation

Kets de Vries, Manfred F.R., Leadership Coaching and the Rescuer Syndrome: How to Manage Both Sides of the Couch (December 9, 2010). INSEAD Working Paper No. 2010/104/EFE/IGLC. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1722610 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1722610

Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries (Contact Author)

INSEAD - Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise ( email )

Fontainebleau Cedex, F-77305
France

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