5 Signs You Manage a World-Class Interdependent Team

Interdependence may be the truest hallmark of interpersonally competent people, and the most distinguishing characteristic of high-performing teams.  In fact, you can guarantee that any business consistently performing at the top of their game is made up of world-class interdependent teams.[1]

This begs a question:  Is your team among the power-house teams that are setting the world on fire? 

Just in case you really wanted to know the answer, here are five sure-fire signs that would tell you if they are.  Check and see if these things describe your team:

  1. Team members serve the “we” over the “me”. There is a fulfilling spirit of service to one another, and to others beyond the team, that makes way for individual ego to be set aside.  There is also an awareness that every interaction and task contributes to something bigger than self, that there are no less-important puzzle pieces in the team equation.  Every piece matters!
  2. There is a spirit of unconditional curiosity. This applies to both relationship experiences, as well as the differences that emerge in approaching tasks, projects, and assignments.  It is most reflected in the nonjudgment occurring between individuals, particularly during moments of expected frustration, when openness to possibilities, perspectives, and oppositeness creates fertile ground for better outcomes.
  3. There is excitement around a shared purpose that gives meaning to the team’s work. Team members are very adept at translating the work of the team to a specific difference being made in the lives of others or the world.  This difference-making becomes a burn that fuels passion, takes the team confidently into the unknown, and provides both an anchor and a compass to steer by.
  4. Team members are coach-like with one another. Because there is no need to prove your value, or that you are worthy of belonging in an interdependent team, advise-giving and expert-mind give way to give-and-take exploration where coach-likeness draws out the best from the team.  There is room to be stuck.  There is room to not know, and to lean in to others whose views may seem strange or unusual.  You can be coach-like with yourself, which helps you to also be coach-like with others.
  5. Each person leads themselves, so they can partner effectively with others. In an interdependent team, there is no waiting for others to take care of you or meet your needs (dependence), nor siloism or steam-rolling inadvertently over those around you (independence).  Neither is there alliance-forming, gossiping, or the assumption of reciprocity (codependence).  There is, however, awareness of impact, with each person equally sharing the responsibility for their own performance and energy, and contributing to the conditions so others’ performance and energy can also be high.

When you examine these sure-fire signs of high interdependence, how does your team stack up?  And more importantly, what might be different for you if these things were part of the teams you are on?

To learn more about Interdependence, you might be interested in the free online Foundations of People Acuity program, which includes a great overview of Interdependence.  See: http://peopleacuity.wpengine.com/product/foundations-of-people-acuity/.

NOTE: this article was written by DeAnna Murphy, Lisa Gregory, and Steve Jeffs, the People Acuity thought leader team.

DeAnna Murphy, a 23-year organizational development veteran and CEO of People Acuity, has led the 7-year research process with the People Acuity Analytics team. It has involved over 10,000 individuals around the globe participating in original qualitative and quantitative research, exploration of over 1,000 academic and practitioner articles, top-rated marketing reports, and analysis of 200 of the best-selling books in leadership, self-help, business, and psychology. People Acuity, an affiliate of Strengths Strategy, is in 31 countries, and includes over 300 practitioners across the globe.

Lisa Gregory is a thought leader and Manager of Product Development and Delivery at People Acuity. With 17 years of business experience as a trainer, coach, advisor, entrepreneur and corporate leader, Lisa has extensive experience in learning and development, at both strategic and implementation levels. She has worked with leaders in 80 percent of the Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies and has broad and deep knowledge of the challenges facing top executives, employees, and managers as they strive to bring their best to an organization and to their own lives.

Steve Jeffs is the Chief Scientist, Senior Faculty and is co-leading the international expansion of People Acuity. Integral to the People Acuity Analytics team, Steve recently presented the validation of our Foundations of Interdependent Teams Scale at the World Congress of Positive Psychology. He is a registered Psychologist, multi-award winning Executive Coach, energetic facilitator and scientist. Fascinated by interdependence and synergy, Steve is completing his Doctorate in this field, and applies this learning, consulting with organizations and in Executive Coaching with Senior Organizational Leaders around the world. Steve lives in Dubai, UAE, and operates globally.


[1] Barrick, M. R., Bradley, B. H., Colbert, A. E. (2007). The moderating role of top management team interdependence: Implications for real teams and working groups. Academy of Management Journal, 50(3), 544-557.