December 2011

Interdependence

“Nice guys finish last.” How often have you heard that? Or maybe even said it yourself?

Typically, the person saying those words is discouraged (not to say bitter and envious!), and feels he or she has lost out to someone less deserving.

Legend has it that the person who originated the expression was the famous (and hot-tempered!) baseball manager, Leo Durocher, though some maintain that he never actually said those exact words. And even if he did, he claimed he didn’t mean—as everyone assumes—that the “bad guys” always win in life, but that being a good person is no guarantee that you’ll come out ahead.

Well, for sure, being collaborative doesn’t assure one’s success, but I’d say it’s more decisive than ever before, for the simple reason that the “Lone Ranger” form of achievement is becoming increasingly rare.

Today, the great breakthroughs in science are the product of teams. So are medical outcomes. And so are projects in disciplines as disparate as IT and HR.

Individuals are, in other words, far more interdependent than may have been apparent (though I suspect that’s not a new development, but rather one that organizations tended to lose sight of).

To me, interdependence means that those who have the ability to connect people to one another have special value. And it means that the level of contribution one can make depends at least as much on one’s ability to work well with others…as it does on whatever other talents one happens to have been born with.