It seems obvious, but often a concept that seems obvious when talking about it can be most elusive when attempting to put it into practice. In this case I am talking about the need for leaders and project managers to not only understand the importance of Interdependence in achieving team success, but what this value actually looks like when it’s present in an authentic team culture. 

Interdependence is a key aspect of my team culture, values-based model – TIGERS (Trust, Interdependence, Genuineness, Empathy, Risk and Success). Without a true understanding the nature of interdependence and an honest effort to nurture it within a team or institution, other values erode. Success of the mission, whether it is a certain project’s goal or improving a company’s overall bottom line, becomes a bit more elusive.

The simple definition of interdependence, of course, is that a team, to be successful, will need every team member to perform up to snuff. So some leaders, in thinking they are promoting interdependence, will give the rah-rah talk that if each employee does his or her part, the entire team wins and everybody wins.

Interdependence is a collaborative value that develops when a business builds a sense of community in the workforce and with this the spirit of team support. The result is synergy, which enhances and strengthens team success. That success not only includes the number of goals accomplished and productivity achieved but also happiness on the part of employees. The characteristics of a team with high interdependence include high levels of team member information sharing and service to one another’s success.

When this collaborative culture is functioning correctly, interdependence makes a strong appearance. Improvements in team interdependence will increase improvements in trust, genuineness, empathy, risk and success. And companies that screen appropriately during employment interviews to identify behaviors that build effective interdependence tend to hire people with an innate capacity to foster team spirit. The benefit, of course, is lower employee turnover and much higher team cohesiveness.