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The Problem Of "Independence" For Leaders

The Most Common Leadership Mistake

By Cody Dakota Wooten, C.B.C.Published 3 months ago 5 min read

Before I jump into this topic, I want you to know that I am a proponent of Independence.

I think that Independence is a good thing that every person should obtain at some point in their life.

So when I talk about the "Problem of Independence", I'm not saying that "Independence" is the problem.

However, the process to Independence, and especially what happens after it is achieved, becomes a gigantic problem for Leaders.

The Example

Let me give you a story about the Problem of Independence.

You are in charge of training someone brand new to your organization.

They don't know the systems, they don't know the other teams, they know little to nothing overall.

At this point of their journey, they are completely Dependent on you.

Now, all Leaders know that this new hire can't remain Dependent on you forever - they need to be able to do the functions of their job on their own.

So you go about showing them the ropes.

You teach them how the systems work.

You introduce them to the other teams and show them how they interact with each other (assuming we have a healthy organization of course).

You give them everything that they need in order to do the job that they have been hired for.

You take your hands a bit off the wheels, and let them do the work themselves.

At first, there are a few minor mistakes and you correct them gently so they learn.

Before you know it, they have figured it out and can do it on their own!


They have now achieved Independence!

Now what?

The Two-Fold Danger

This moment becomes the biggest danger for the Leader.

The employees cannot stay at "Independence" alone, at least, not if you want the highest functioning team.

If they stay at "Independence", they will begin to operate completely independently which may not be in the direction that the organization needs to go as a whole.

This is when teams break into Silos.

Too many people working completely in Independence leads to a disorganized mess where no one knows what anyone else is doing.

Teams start to fray, goals are split, interests are fought against, and no one stays happy.

I know this for a fact because I have been in an organization that operated like that.

As a Leader, if you allow your teams to stay in this operating style, you will be seen as ineffective as a Leader, unable to bring the team together.

If the organization is to succeed, the teams need to be united and brought together by the Leader.

However, this is where the next danger lies.

Most Leaders at this point turn back to Dependence.

The other teams, other employees, and everyone need to directly get everything sent to and approved by the Leader before they can do anything.

This creates so many different problems.

One of the largest is that you as a Leader can only fully grasp so much of what is going on with every team at any given time.

You are a single person, with a limited amount of time.

You become a bottleneck for the organization, as everyone has to wait for whatever you decide.

Often, the best opportunities require quick action, the the bottlenecks lead to those opportunities becoming missed.

As the organization gets larger, you have less and less time to tend to all of the demands required in the organization

You have to make decisions before you really understand the realities of the problems.

Employees rarely see you, but they have to do whatever you say.

Instead of being seen as a "Leader", you become an Authoritarian who is blind to the needs of the people and who is hated by them.

Once people have tasted Independence, they despise any who attempt to take it away from them.

There is a reason we are seeing so much hatred toward the Return-To-Office Mandates as well as so many strikes occurring right now.

The organizations have gone from creating Independent employees, and have tried to force them back to Dependence on the decisions of the Leaders, without understanding the real struggles that are faced by the employees.

This kind of attitude and workplace is what creates Stress, Burnout, Active Disengagement, and Toxic Environments.

So, what is the solution?

The Solution

Instead of keeping people at Independence, or reverting back to Dependence, the organization needs to Evolve.

There is a step above Independence, which is Interdependence.

In this, people work Independently, but toward the same goals as a unit.

Each person maintains their Independence in the areas of their strengths, but in the areas of their weaknesses, they defer to someone who is stronger in that area.

This requires the Leader to not make the decisions themselves in the areas of their weaknesses but to allow others to make the decisions where they are strongest.

Instead of demands, the Leader asks questions.

How do we go about doing this?

If we agree that "this" is the goal, what do you need to accomplish it?

What are the challenges to getting there, and how can we overcome these challenges together?

It requires giving power to others and then making sure they are utilizing that power for the best of everyone in the organization.

In the Special Ops of the military, this is called "Dynamic Subordination" and "Fluid Leadership".

It is Dynamic Subordination because you need to understand who has the greatest strength at any given time and then choose to be subordinate to them (as long as they are aligned to the same goals).

It is Fluid Leadership because the individual who takes the highest Lead on any given aspect of the business will depend on who has the greatest strength in that area, so it will change fluidly.

This Interdependence has the highest ability to create the results that businesses want and need, but it is so rarely utilized.


It is difficult for most people to let go of their ego and accept that they may not be the best individual at a given time.

It is hard for them to accept that they may not really understand the problems that are occurring, and accept that others may have the solutions they don't.

Though this is true, the alternatives are significantly worse decisions that will only create larger headaches that are more difficult to recover from.

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About the Creator

Cody Dakota Wooten, C.B.C.

Creator of the 4X Award-Winning Category "Legendary Leadership" | Faith, Family, Freedom, Future | The Legendary Leadership Coach, Speaker, Writer & Podcast Host | For More of Cody Dakota's Work Go To: https://www.TheLeadership.Guide

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