October 3, 2013

For too many people, relationships at work are essentially dependent. We all need the help of others to be successful, but unhealthy dependence occurs when we relinquish to others our responsibility to speak and act with purposeful autonomy.

InterdependenceInterdependence assumes responsibility for the ability to work autonomously as well as with other when necessary. Interdependent partners each assume full responsibility first for their own performance, then for challenging assumptions and continually improving the systems that define the performance culture of the organization.

Dependence occurs when only one party in a relationship thinks it is legitimate to have expectations of the other. If your boss does not legitimize your expectations of her role in your performance, then you are in dependent relationship. Like it or not, you have to collude with that; it takes two willing parties to sustain dependence.

As leaders, we do care about our people, and we do want to be supportive. But there is a way we can help others that leaves them more dependent on us and less interdependent with us. Through our supportive relationships with others, we want to make them more capable of being purposefully autonomous performers. At its best, leadership liberates others by enabling them to find meaning and full responsibility in their roles.

Please take two short minutes to watch the video, then share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Well said. There is a fine line between healthy relationships and dependency. Healthy relationships are needed in strong leadership, for effective change is hard to implement without them. Dependency doesn’t capture the power of the collective–which is the goal of most every team.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Bill. So true that effective change is very difficult void good leader relations. Thanks for sharing. Bret