Let’s face it: We all like to be independent. We like to know that we can take care of ourselves, that we can handle a crisis, that we can “rise above.” And that’s a good thing. Nobody, after all, likes to be around people who can’t manage to take care of themselves.
Unless you work just for yourself, we argue that it’s NOT a great thing to be so completely self-sufficient. In fact, we think organizations are better off when people engage meaningfully with each other. That means we need to balance our urge to be independent with an acceptance that we are “in-dependence” with others. We need others and they need us.
We exist in a network of “mutual relationships,” in which we others provide things that help us do our jobs, and we do the same for them. It could be as simple as providing data or a report, or as complex as completing job descriptions and capital expenditure budgets. But it’s always true. Always. No matter what the case, we do our work for a purpose, and that necessarily implies that someone else needs what we provide. Even in the most basic organizational structure—something like an assembly line, for example—the person to your left gives something to you and the person to your right gets something from you. It’s a fundamental business axiom.
We believe that it’s time to think differently about how we value autonomy and independence as virtues for their own sake. It’s time to consider that what we should really value—and reward—is the ability to understand, respect, and balance our needs at work with the needs of others. Only when both are considered can an organization thrive.
Curious to learn more? We have a white paper on the topic which you can request here.