RSS The Power of Dependence

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir, 1911

I think we all are aware of the negative connotations that surround the word co-dependency. We most often hear it in connection to an unhealthy power dynamic in a one-on-one relationship. However, there are other types of dependent relationships worth examining for their value to the workplace.

Codependency at Organization Level: Never healthy

A codependent relationship with more than two people, such as in an organization, involves overly passive behavior, where you give up your power and depend on the organization in a harmful way. This condition is most apparent in ongoing relationships between people or groups who take advantage of one another, and this relationship is never healthy.

Intra-dependency: “All for one” mentality

A similar but not necessarily harmful relationship is what I like to call “intra-dependency.” I define this condition as one in which a single group works together for the betterment of the individuals and, by association, the group as a whole benefits. This can be a healthy dynamic if the outcome happens to positively influence nearby individuals and groups. However, intra-dependency can be debilitating to an organization if the team takes on the competitive mindset of “us versus them,” with “them” being other teams.

Inter-dependency: Mutual collaboration = mutual gain

I believe that the most effective organizations and leaders are those that foster a culture of “interdependency.”  Interdependence is the opposite of intra-dependence. It is a healthy dynamic where all individuals and teams work together to benefit the organization as a whole.

Organizations that prize interdependency find their employees pushing towards individual goals, but also going out of their way to help others do the same. Think of it this way: an organization demonstrates a healthy interdependency when they are able to see all parts of the organizational puzzle and how they fit together – themselves, their peers and organizational objectives.

Interdependence means we give up some power over our wants and needs, but in doing so, open the possibility for all individuals to thrive. This relationship puts a high value on making allies, forming partnerships and aiming for shared accomplishments.

We all know individuals and teams that are more comfortable working in their “own little bubble” because it is safer. Working this way allows these individuals or teams to maintain total control over their environment and not be subjected to contrary thoughts or opinion, which isn’t always a bad thing. It is these individuals and teams, though, who hold the key to greater organizational and personal opportunity.

Click here to read about the difference between the Latin roots “inter-” (between or among) and “intra-” (within).

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply


Home About Archive Mitch HagstromMitch Hagstrom
Executive Vice President
Chief Banking Officer
Pacific Continental Bank

Powered by Google


Check out Pacific Continental's Twitter and Facebook pages.