How to Develop an Interdependent Leadership Structure

Collaborative work across departments is becoming an increasingly essential part of running a successful organization. However, collaboration doesn’t always come naturally. 

In his impactful book, The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, Dr. Steven Covey says, “Human life is interdependent! Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success.”

While our culture idealizes independence as the highest achievement, reaching a point where you need the support of others is inevitable. Having a synergetic team that works together, sharing ideas, talents, and insights, enables you to achieve the innovation to thrive. But how can your team reach an interdependent structure? 

The Importance of Interdependence

If you have a desire to build your team, foster relationship, and empower the individual, you are already leaning toward an interdependent leadership structure. Interdependent leaders are comfortable providing feedback and listening to feedback. Interdependence focuses on the success of all, instead of the success of an individual. 

Between massive changes in technology and communications, new problems and opportunities are appearing around every corner. These problems and opportunities require collective efforts to be accomplished. 

Interdependent leadership structures allow everyone to have input into ideas and to take initiative to accomplish goals.

Become Independent First

Before you can form healthy interdependent relationships within your organization, team members must become fully independent. The opposite of independence is dependence. This is the need to have someone else guide and support you through projects.

We all start out dependent, both through childhood and then when beginning a career. Needing support through these transitional periods makes sense, but the end goal should always be to become independent.

Being independent means you are able to make your own decisions, act upon ideas, and take ownership of your choices. When you take on a leadership role as an independent individual, you are able to make choices that create a positive impact. 

As an independent individual, you are seeing the world through the lens of “I”. When you begin to transition to an interdependent mindset, you view the world through a lens of “we”. 

Becoming Interdependent

If leaders are only focused on being independent, they may refuse to take responsibility for problems or may try to accomplish everything alone. As a leader focusing on an interdependent leadership structure, you should understand the servant leadership mindset. Servant leadership requires you to look beyond your own needs and wants, and instead focus on the needs of your team. 

When developing an interdependent leadership structure you start to view the ideas of all team members as equally important. There is more opportunity to collaborate and develop new and innovative ideas. 

Key Elements of an Interdependent Leadership Structure

When assessing how interdependent your team is, take into consideration where you are with the following:

  • Self-leadership. Do your team members feel able to take initiative? Are they freely sharing ideas and feedback? 
  • Proactive accountability. Are your team members finding self-motivation? Are they reaching out to you to receive feedback?
  • Coaching. Are you working to inspire other’s growth and performance? Are you providing opportunities to learn and grow?
  • Collaboration. Are your team members working together to achieve goals? Are they bouncing ideas off each other and sharing concepts?
  • Innovation. Do you provide space for your team to think outside the box and enact new ideas? Are you focusing on the customer and business growth?

By comparing where you are at right now with the key elements of an interdependent leadership style, you can establish what works for your team and where you need to improve.

Finding Balance on the Interdependent Spectrum

Although there are major benefits of interdependence within company leadership, it is still important to find the balance between being interdependent and using independence. For example, independence can be beneficial when setting boundaries at work. It allows you to make decisions and respond to unexpected situations with timeliness and efficiency. 

Finding the balance between independence and interdependence is an undoubted challenge. Isolating yourself from your team when working in an independent structure, may be beneficial when dealing with crises, but you lose the ability to collaborate. However, if you become too interdependent, you may find yourself struggling to see the line between friendships and employees.
As you shift from the “I” to “we” mindset and you find yourself needing help, working with an experienced interdependent leader can help. Set up a time to have a free 30-minute strategy session with Bill, today.