Independence vs. Interdependence in Leadership
A major national holiday in the US is approaching, Independence Day on July 4th. It brings up thoughts about the relationship between independence and interdependence in leadership. Since interdependence is the reliance of people upon goods, resources and knowledge from all parts of the world, the interaction is mutually beneficial. This definition suggests that leaders need to be interdependent. One observable behavior is the practice of leaders relying upon the support and input of others in order forge ahead with their collective vision—with a long line of constituents willingly following their path.
But, what of the independent leader? Can he/she operate independently and still be successful? Certainly there is the aspect of “the buck stops here” when it comes to accountability in leadership. However, Kouzes and Posner write in Credibility that too much support can actually foster dependency. “Leaders cannot be expected to be available 24 hours a day and still maintain their personal health and worth to the organization. Leaders need to be alert that neither they nor their constituents make the institution a substitute for the Self.” So, this year should we celebrate Independence Day or Interdependence Day this Fourth of July? How about Both?