Interdependence in Leadership

Posted By John Camardo on Jan 20, 2014 | 0 comments


At The Chapel, we (and others) believe some very specific things about the purpose and nature of the church. We articulate the way this plays out in a local congregation and regional church as “Ministry Thresholds”. Meaning, there are some things we come to expect and believe are necessary for the broader expression of the body of Christ to be what God designed it to be. If we are not meeting these thresholds, we are hindering the church from fulfilling the mission God gave us. As such, they are critically important to our team strategy.

These thresholds are as follows:

1. Greater Body Partnership – seeing the full expression of the church in a region partner together

2. Geographic Intentionality – being intentional with our circle of accountability locally, regionally and globally

3. Focus on Spiritual Formation – embracing a deep relationship with God, living Christ-like, understanding and engaging spiritual giftedness and extending the story of grace

4. Interdependent Leadership – equipping and empowering leaders while appreciating and valuing diversity in gifting, talents and abilities

Although I could dive in to each from a leadership perspective, I want to spend some time focusing on interdependence in our leadership as I believe it is one area that is misunderstood and has implications regardless where you lead.

So, what do I mean when I say “interdependent leadership”?

Beyond the simple definition I noted above, let’s try and back into an explanation by describing what it is not.

– Being on a team doesn’t guarantee interdependence. There could and should be interdependence on a team, but a team could simply mean a division of labor.

– Interdependence doesn’t mean that everyone has or needs an equal voice. We all have different knowledge, experience, gifting, domain of influence, etc.

– It doesn’t simply mean that a leader delegates tasks well. Nor is it simply addressed by a particular organizational design or structure.

So, how do we get after interdependence in our leadership?

I have found that typically there is a need for a “primus among equals” to simply get things done, make decisions and/or cast vision.

You may be saying at this point – “that’s simply not possible! Once someone is designated the decision-maker, interdependence goes out the window.”

I agree that many times that is the case, but I am convinced that only with the right heart of leadership will interdependence thrive.

Interdependence is a heart issue more than a structure or delegation issue

In my view, only a heart of humility and strong character with enable someone to lead interdependently.

Here are a few things to reflect on that may help reveal whether you are leading with the right heart – one of humility and character:

1. How good am I at empowering or mobilizing the people around me? Or, phrased another way, what leadership opportunities am I giving away?

Am I truly empowering leaders with meaningful opportunities to lead or just giving them stuff I don’t want to do?

Am I simply giving away tasks or leadership opportunities (which includes decision-making, accountability for results, etc.)?

One caution here…before you delegate, you need to ask yourself the question – as a leader, what must I not give away? (i.e. casting or holding vision, financial accountability, developing leaders, your ability to influence, etc.)

2. Am I creating or encouraging systems that depend on me?

Being the only leader is not scalable or sustainable. A model that hinges on one person alone won’t work for the next person that will follow you. Not to mention, it damages the team because it prevents the equipping, developing and releasing of leaders.

Here is another way to look at this…do all the eyes in the room look to one person to make a decision? Or is there a high degree of trust in the room where decisions are made by seeking good counsel and leveraging the wisdom, talent and gifting of those that make up your team? If all decisions flow through one person, you immediately limit the potential of the group to the strengths and weaknesses of one.

3. What kind of people do I attract?

This is a question I first saw on Mark Miller’s blog (Great Leaders Serve) and it fits well in this topic.

Do I attract great people? or those who are just looking to collect a paycheck?

Am I intimidated by greatness around me? Or do I try to surround myself with those who fill out my areas of weakness?

Do I make intentional efforts to help my team and colleagues be successful?

4. Would those I work with describe me as a leader with character?

Don’t just gloss over this point…

I have seen in many instances that talent can take you to places that a weak character cannot sustain.

Did you get that?

Your talents, abilities and gifting can elevate you positionally, but only a strong character will sustain you in leadership.

5. Am I leading beyond my capacity and/or domain of influence?

If so, this can frustrate others around me. The difference here is a power grab vs being proactive, helpful and using your giftedness for the benefit of the team.

On a related note, I have also found that typically the best candidates for higher level leadership are not the ones asking for it.

I could certainly go on, but this gives you a good sense for what interdependence in your leadership could look like if done well. If you are struggling in one or more of these areas, who is a trusted other that you can ask for honest feedback and guidance to improve in these areas?

Could you add to the list above?

Send me some of your comments so we can interact with them and see what else we can learn from each other!

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