White Knight Syndrome: Can be a woman’s problem too!

Author: Janani Sampath

Reading the term white knight syndrome, you probably imagine a man wearing a cape running to rescue a woman in distress. After all, the white knight in shining armor is the man. However, irrespective of the name suggesting one gender being prone to it, white knight syndrome is likely to affect women too.

Having been conditioned to be emotional caretakers, women tend to display it, feeling compelled to rescue. While you may wonder what is wrong with rescuing someone who needs to be, the part missed is the tendency to help at the expense of their own needs. While the syndrome has been addressed extensively in romantic relationships, it can be demonstrated in the workplace.

The limelight-hogger: The team members and colleagues think you are craving recognition. After all, you are trying to put in the last mile effort when you have completed your contribution. In this bid, you are staying up late to work beyond office hours.

Wants to be right and perfect: Even leadership and mid-level managers experience it as they want the best for their team members. Individually, it looks like this: you are spending too much time thinking up solutions for others and want to fix the problems for them when they could be beyond your control now.

Seeks answers every time: A good part of this can be seen in those in the mid and leadership levels, where you feel compelled to not leave anything open-ended. You need answers right now, which can be overbearing for the rest of the team.

There are many reasons for developing the white knight syndrome— neglect and even narcissism.

Fixing it is easier when you realize it.

Understanding the emotions: What do you feelwant to connect with the rest or the urge to show others how much you do? These are warning signs that you need to pick up and address.

Dialogue with self Engaging with yourself in a conversation to know why you are doing a few things can explain what drives your actions.

Empathize: Go around and talk to others in your team or those who work closely with you. If you are at a level where you can influence them, find out what they expect. It might often be learnings, growth, and empowerment, not being rescued or protected.

As you advance in your career and at work, you reach a spot where your views of the world and about yourself change. It is best to thwart the assumption that you possess all the skills and power with some awareness.