Sarah Boyd


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Do You Know Someone Indecisive, Clingy & Dependent?

Do you know someone who is extremely clingy, indecisive and unable to exist without another person? You could be dealing with someone with Dependent Personality Disorder.

(Image credit @jshnaaa)

(Image credit @jshnaaa)

This article is the final article of a 4 Part series on specific personality disorders you are most likely to find in business and leadership. 

You can read my previous posts with links at the bottom of this article.

From my university psychology study and personal leadership experience I’ve noticed that personality disorders go largely undetected in business and leadership and can cause great and long term damage to relationships and the organisation.

Disclaimer: The only way an individual can be officially diagnosed with a personality disorder is by a trained mental health professional using the DSM criteria. This information is to provide everyday knowledge to equip leaders to be able to identify when you may need professional help. 


This individual is clingy and dependent upon other people to mentally and emotionally to engage in life. This individual is almost definitely in a team member role and not a leadership role.

The Dependent: 

1. Is unable to make decisions without the other person they are currently dependent upon: this comes from a fear of having a different opinion from the person they are connected too.

2. Has a overwhelming fear of abandonment: being alone is something they avoid at all costs. If single, you will see a pattern of constant romance relationships so as to avoid being alone.

3. Is clingy in relationships: wants to physically be around the person constantly. Often will have anxiety if the other person expresses that they need space or even just time off.

4. Is dependent and submissive: although these may seem like great team member qualities. This submissiveness doesn’t come from confidence and strength, but rather deep insecurity.

5. Is inclined to pessimism and self doubt: they will often put themselves down, calling themselves ‘stupid’ etc.

6. Seeks overprotection and dominance from others: will tend to find themselves in a pattern of overbearing, almost abusive relationship.

7. Has difficulty making personal decisions: they have often become so emeshed in the relationship that they genuinely don’t know what their opinion is on anything. They would prefer to defer every decision to the other party.

8. Has difficulty expressing disagreements: this is because of the threat of abandonment. Their logic is often “if I disagree with you, will you be angry (leaving me emotionally), or physically leave”.

9. Has difficulty initiating projects: because most of their experience is just acting on being told what to do, they often won’t do anything without being specifically told too.

10. Is almost an empty shell: their personal interests, opinions, personality, likes & dislikes change with whoever they are in the dependent relationship with. They almost become the other person or exist in extreme passivity.



If you are potentially hiring this person: look out for their ability to have an opinion on topics. Also check their references for how they were initiating projects. Do not be fooled by the allure of submissiveness that makes them seem like a low-maintenance team member that will just be told what to do.

If this person is in a team you are leading: because of their submissive behaviour, these individual’s can initially look like amazing team members. It’s important to remember, the submission is not from confidence and strength, but from insecurity. They will also frustrate you regularly with their lack of opinion and initiation.

One of the best options may be to team them up with an encouraging team member that you trust who can take them under their wing and help you lead them.

If this person is your leader: extremely unlikely with this particular personality disorder.


For previous posts on personality disorders in business and leadership:

1. Narcissitic Personality Disorder: “Know someone obsessed with themselves?”

2. Borderline Personality Disorder: “Know someone unstable, emotional and explosive?” 

3. Histrionic Personality Disorder: “Know a drama queen?”

Or an Introduction: “How to know you’re dealing with a dangerous work colleague”.


For a FREE checklist of “The Big 4 Personality Disorders In Business and Leadership” enter your email below.  


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