by Paul Casey

The Journey from Dependence to Interdependence–Guest Blog by Amir Ghannad

In his timeless classic, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey describes three habits necessary to achieve what Covey calls the Private Victory, which is the shift from dependence to independence, and three habits which comprise the Public Victory, which elevates a person to interdependence.

The most basic example of the progressive nature of moving from dependence to independence and eventually to interdependence is the process of a baby who is dependent on others for every need, growing up to be a teenager who can take care of most of his/her needs, and eventually becoming an interdependent adult.

The same is true when we start our careers and find ourselves dependent on others “showing us the ropes” and teaching us what we need to know. At some point, after relying on the graciousness of our mentors, we learn and experience enough to become self-sufficient and productive on our own. As we continue to mature professionally, we begin to establish mutually beneficial and supportive relationships with others, and synergize with them to create outcomes greater than either of us could produce on our own.

Transformative Leaders embody this spirit of interdependence. They acquire the skills and develop the habits and characteristics necessary to achieve the Private Victory and secure their independence, thus actualizing the meaning of the phrase, “I am The One.” However, also striving to embody the idea behind, “It’s not about me,” Transformative Leaders achieve none of this merely for their own satisfaction.

The Journey to Independence:

The necessary leadership characteristics to achieve the Private Victory are as follows:

  • Personal accountability – The willingness and propensity to accept responsibility for the current circumstances and the accountability to change them if they are unacceptable.
  • Vision/dream – Having a vision of a future that inspires us and naturally guides our steps in the direction of creating that designed future.
  • Strategic planning – Using the best knowledge about the journey available to us at the time to develop, execute, and revise as necessary, a plan to create the desired future.

The following elements aid us in developing these characteristics:

  • Self-awareness – The journey to independence must start with an understanding of our own strengths and weaknesses and where we might be sabotaging our own progress.
  • The courage to make bold declarations – The tendency to avoid breakdowns and failure at all cost is what keeps us from ever achieving breakthroughs, personally or professionally.
  • The competence to plan and execute – Developing the basic level of competence and consistency as an individual contributor in the area in which we wish to become independent is essential.
  • 100% commitment to stay the course – One’s ability to remain committed regardless of other people’s level of commitment is a critical element of not only becoming an effective leader, but also being a strong individual contributor.

The Journey to Interdependence:

While independence is a necessary step in fully expressing one’s leadership abilities, it makes for a terrible resting place as it breeds arrogance and mediocrity. At best, independent people who choose not to progress to the next level of maturity will be valuable individual contributors, and at worst, they will contribute to the counterproductive creation and maintenance of silos that prevent effective collaboration. In either case, however, independent leaders will never live up their full potential and will never be able to successfully cause transformation in their organizations.

The necessary leadership characteristics to achieve the Public Victory are listed below:

  • Abundance mentality – The realization that success and fulfillment is not a zero-sum game.
  • Empathy and understanding – The recognition that all effective partnerships and relationships must start with a genuine desire to listen and understand the other person’s situation and points of view.
  • A servant’s heart – The propensity to discover and meet the needs of other team members and peers, genuinely based on the desire to serve.

The following elements aid us in developing these characteristics:

  • Listening mindset – The willingness to “seek first to understand, then to be understood,” and the practice of getting into the other person’s world and seeing the world through their eyes.
  • Emotional intelligence – The skill of understanding and accepting one’s emotions, putting them to work wisely for one’s own benefit and the benefit of others, while simultaneously not being enslaved or beholden to them when they are not helpful. This also involves awareness of one’s emotional impact on others.
  • Humility – The acknowledgment that your independence does not come from you; it comes solely from those upon whom you depended in the past. The realization that whatever you have achieved was ultimately made possible by others who selflessly used their independence to help you gain yours.

Amir  A.  Ghannad

Leadership Development Specialist and Culture Transformation Catalyst

The Ghannad Group, LLC

Amir Ghannad is a frequent and highly sought after keynote speaker at leadership summits in the US and abroad, and the founder of The Ghannad Group, which offers speaking, workshop facilitation, and consulting services, focused on guiding leaders in creating extraordinary cultures that deliver breakthrough results and unprecedented fulfillment.

For over 31 years, Amir held leadership positions of increasing responsibility and scope in multiple locations in the US, Southeast Asia, and Europe with such companies as Procter and Gamble and Campbell Soup Company.

Amir’s first book titled The Transformative Leader, has been shipped to over 30 countries, and is available on Amazon and at, where his weekly blog posts on leadership and culture transformation can also be found.



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