What Happens When Your Team Stops Working Independently?


Are your team members working independently? Discover the impact of interdependence on team performance and learn five practical strategies to foster a collaborative, high-performing team.


No high-performing team has team members functioning independently.

Independent is the opposite of teamwork. Consider a sports team. While tennis or golf may be mostly an independent effort, team sports demand a high degree of interdependence.

If you lead a team, you’re leading an interdependent organization. People, departments, or even divisions can operate independently, but in doing so, the organization loses effectiveness and efficiency.

High performance requires interdependence.

How to Create More Interdependence

Perhaps we should say, “how to acknowledge and leverage more interdependence.” In reality, every organization is interdependent. The problem is that too many teams don’t actively prioritize interdependent work.

Here are 5 strategies to raise your interdependent quotient:

Leadership Integration

Research emphasizes the role of leadership integration, which includes collaborative behavior, information exchange, and joint decision-making. Teams that excel in these areas tend to have higher performance levels because they operate with a unified effort and cohesiveness.

This integration ensures that team members work together effectively, share insights, and make collective decisions that benefit the organization as a whole.

A Practical Suggestion: Start hosting regular, cross-departmental meetings to discuss upcoming projects. Most decisions affect the entire organization. It’s important to have the entire organization represented in the conversation prior to any decision.

Psychological Safety

It is crucial to create an environment where team members feel psychologically safe. This means fostering a culture where individuals feel comfortable expressing their ideas, admitting mistakes, and asking for help.

Psychological safety is linked to higher team performance because it encourages open communication and learning from errors, which are essential for continuous improvement and innovation.

A Practical Suggestion: Go first. When a leader displays openness and vulnerability, the team will usually follow suit.

Team Alignment

High-performing teams often share a clear understanding of their goals, engage in high-quality interactions characterized by trust and open communication, and maintain a sense of renewal by being open to innovation and learning. Leaders can foster these dynamics through regular reflection sessions and ensuring that team meetings are focused on topics that require collective expertise.

A Practical Suggestion: While different departments may do different things, the overall goal is the same: The Mission. Rather than only align a team to accomplish a task, work to align team members and teams to the broader mission.

Interdepartmental Collaboration

Effective high-performance teams are not only well-integrated internally but also maintain strong connections with other departments and external stakeholders. This boundary-spanning leadership is crucial for leveraging diverse insights, sharing resources, and aligning efforts across the organization. Teams that are connected in this way can better navigate complex challenges and drive organizational success.

A Practical Suggestion: Create intentional relational opportunities between teams. While sharing insights and resources is the ultimate goal, relational trust is the starting place.

Shared Values and Purpose

A culture of shared values and a common purpose can significantly enhance team performance. When team members are aligned with the organization’s mission and understand how their work contributes to broader goals, they are more motivated and engaged. This shared sense of purpose helps teams to function more cohesively and effectively.

A Practical Suggestion: Leverage staff or organization-wide meetings to celebrate, not just inform. When an organization celebrates success, it reinforces the mission, values, behaviors, and shared interdependence.

By integrating these strategies, leaders can build interconnected, high-performing teams that drive organizational success through collaboration and a unified approach.

One More Thing…

If you found this helpful, please pass it along to anyone in your circle of influence who would benefit. Most leaders are overwhelmed with daily tasks, leaving little time for innovation, creativity, and strategic growth. Check out gavinadams.com for more information.

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Leading WITH You,