A New Year’s Challenge: Embrace the Interdependence: the Invisible Door to Power

Most employees make a very limited impact in their work environment.

This statement is not meant to criticize but rather draw attention to something I believe is worth considering. In a world of workplaces that continue to struggle with the right balance of talent to task, with all our emphasis on “LEAN everything” most people still have a very limited impact; they color inside the lines! As a manager I think there is something you can do about that and you’ll need a challenge in order to make it happen. You need to break through the self-imposed limits you and your employees work within.

As we approach the completion of another calendar cycle I offer the following challenge to those of you who manage. Would you be willing to commit to tripling the impact you and each of the people reporting has on your business in 2011?

If you take this challenge authentically you and your reports are going to wind up productively and naturally needing and being needed by others in the organization in ways you never imagined possible. I am convinced that the truest definition of POWER is; the ability to accomplish. Organizationally, accomplishment runs in direct proportion to the degree of surrendering to the tutelage of interdependency.


Back in 1994 a book appeared that for many readers rocked the foundations of modern management and indeed it was intended to do just that. ‘Leadership and the New Science: Learning About Organization from an Orderly Universe’ by Margaret Wheatley was heralded by management experts as a breakthrough publication and has very likely been read by many of you reading this post.

You may be inclined at this point to comment that reference to this book is old news. Before you do that I’d ask you to consider this reference from a 2008 interview with Scott London in which Margaret makes the case for value of learned interdependency. (Remember, this book was published in 1994 and 14 years later the content is here being treated as current information; news!)

Here is what she said in response to Scott’s question about her learning from the study of quantum physics:

I think there were several real breakthroughs. How do you understand a world in which the only material form is that of relationships, and where there is no sense of an individual that exists independent of its relationships? That was the gift of the quantum worldview. It said there are no independent entities anywhere at the quantum level. It’s all relationships. That was something that made a lot of sense to how we were starting to think about organizations — as webs of relationships.”


▪ This entire interview is worth reading, especially if you haven’t read ‘Leadership and the New Science.’


  • A point that may easily missed here, since we are so familiar with the word relationship that we are inclined to assume understanding, is that in nature there is no such thing as a casual relationship, all relationships are intentional and causal, anything but casual. Not so with us in the workplace and herein lies the opportunity.

And…and…in case you need some further encouragement to dig more deeply into the possibility resident in the study of quantum physics in the context of management I’ll mention that this interview with Margaret Wheatley came to my attention while doing a blog search on “interdependency.” I found the interview in its entirety posted December 8, 2010 by a guy named Jeff Miller who shares information he finds valuable as he comes across it. Like a “message in a bottle” eh? ( yes, this is what you think it is, a Sting!)


Now, back to the notion of tripling impact and my challenge; the technique that will open this door is to be willing to be needed by others before you concern yourself with what you need.

Here is how to begin and it is as simple as it sounds. Have each of your reports approach someone outside your group at least once each week and ask that person what they can do for them, today, this week or this month to help them accomplish their objectives. The response may not be immediate because the invitation will probably be a surprise. The invitation must be authentic and a commitment must be made to deliver something specific by a defined time.

That’s it. Keep track of what your folks are promising to others and their delivery record. If my intuition is correct within a relatively short period of time you will find similar requests beginning to come in to your group.

I’d love to hear if you’ll plan to accept the challenge.




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