When we consider our career paths and success in our lives, it comes back to a combination of life stages and individual growth. Steven Covey’s ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ explains it best with the characteristics of:
As a child and moving through your teenage years, naturally we are Dependent on our families and friends for help and growth. We then hit the Independent years, knowing and growing in our own abilities. But sometimes what happens is we become so independent, we isolate ourselves and create ourselves as the only expert, who struggles to relinquish control and ends up taking too much on. Ultimately, we can get locked into independence, without the foresight and / or ability to move to interdependence.
Interdependence is a key ingredient to overall success, as it allows collaboration. When you assess your business, you might have a number of key independent people operating efficiently in their own space and needing very little help, but if these people operate without consideration of potential impacts to the other processes in the business chain, or the broader business vision, they will be far less effective and may ultimately end up having a detrimental impact to the business.
Moving to interdependence doesn’t mean you have to give up your independence though. It is actually far more powerful when you use your strengths and knowledge to work in partnership. As the age old adage “two heads are better than one” goes, great things can be achieved when you use the combination of interdependent thinkers!
During my time working in the agribusiness sector, I have often observed that the independence of individual farm business operators is both their greatest strength and their greatest weakness. Aligning this observation with Covey’s ‘growth characteristics’, it is apparent that a growing business must ensure its key personnel move towards interdependent state of being and mind. This allows the business to access valuable opportunities by seeing things from another perspective. Learning from and collaborating with other like-minded people, and being able to get a fresh perspective on the business, is what sets apart those who will reflect changing times and client needs, rather than those being stuck in a time warp. Each of these behaviours has a role in a business, and you can manage and capitalise on them by understanding:
- Dependence state – it may be valuable to help move people from their dependence style of behaviour, by giving them deadlines and accountability to support them in becoming independent with their own responsibilities
- Independence state – compliment their ability to work autonomously, efficiently and being accountable by supporting and encouraging them to work with their team, suppliers, and customers to challenge the way they think and interact with others in a collaborative team environment
- Interdependence – continue to provide accountability and with measurable outcomes of collaboration, and goals to challenge them for better business outcomes, i.e. profit, relationship building, partnerships, etc. This character set provides significant gains.