There’s more to The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People than just the seven habits. In fact, the whole book is based on the idea that companies should foster a sense of interdependence, not independence or dependence. However, for a lot of us in the modern world, independence is seen as the ideal. Independent workers are self-motivated and hard-working, right?
That may be true, but independent workers are also not always team-oriented and can miss out on the benefit of mutual feedback. But dependence isn’t much better… dependent people are powerless to do anything on their own because they rely too much on the others around them. That’s why author Stephen Covey offers an alternative to both types of work environments called interdependence.
Interdependence is the concept that independent people flourish when they allow themselves to work in tandem with others. It’s a concept that’s simple to understand but difficult to implement. Today, we’re walking you through how to create a company culture that implements healthy co-working according to Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Teaching Yourself to Be Interdependent
In order to teach others, you should first work on your own interdependence. To do this, start with your independence because, as Covey writes, “Interdependence is a choice only independent people can make.” Realize your worth and work hard of your own accord, but combine it with an effort to recognize the strengths of others. When you do this, you’ll find yourself wanting to work with them, not because of your inability to do the task, but because you know that it will turn out for the best if you work together.
Teaching Others to Be Interdependent
An interdependent attitude is important to model for those around you, but it isn’t enough to generate widespread interdependence. The first step is getting others to understand the value of an interdependent relationship. As Stephen Covey says, “Independent thinking alone is not suited to interdependent reality. Independent people who do not have the maturity to think and act interdependently may be good individual producers, but they won’t be good leaders or team players.” Gentle corrections of independent or dependent sentiments are vital to teaching others. This, combined with modeling interdependence yourself, will gradually build a company culture that is based on mutual cooperation.
Whether you are a business leader or an entry-level employee, you can implement interdependence into your daily work in a way that affects others for the better. The best way is to be careful of your language and to make an effort to always use the word “we.”
As the book has it, “Dependence is the paradigm of you—you take care of me; you come through for me; you didn’t come through; I blame you for the results. Independence is the paradigm of I—I can do it; I am responsible; I am self-reliant; I can choose. Interdependence is the paradigm of we—we can do it; we can cooperate; we can combine our talents and abilities and create something greater together.”
Just a simple change to how you speak of your company will also change how you think of your company and, as a result, others may follow suit.
Essentially, just by modelling, correcting, and changing language, you can gradually make your company a more interdependent place to work, benefitting your work life and that of others all at the same time.