Question - I'd like to model and instill in my team members the concept of "interdependence" as described by Stephen Covey in "The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People" rather than the "I can do it by myself" mind-set. How can I teach and encourage "buy-in" in a society where the "If I don't do it myself, it won't get done" philosophy prevails?

Answer - Stephen Covey defines interdependence as people "combining their efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success." Covey states that, as an interdependent person, "I have the opportunity to share myself deeply, meaningfully, with others, and I have access to the vast resources and potential of other human beings." People who work interdependently contribute equally so that a much larger goal is accomplished by the team than would be possible by any one team member alone.

To encourage buy-in, team members will have to understand the benefits of thinking interdependently and how it relieves the pressure of having to bear responsibility for all decisions.

Author Donna Fisher, in her book "People Power," gives several examples for moving from independent to interdependent thinking. For example:

- Independent thinking says, "I don't need anyone's help" or "I can do this by myself." Interdependent thinking understands that it is not a matter of "needing" help but of making the best use of available resources and working smart. It says, "I can accomplish even more with the assistance of others," and "I appreciate the opportunity to call on the expertise of others."

- Independent thinking says, "They probably don't have time to . . ." or "they wouldn't want to . . . ," but interdependent thinking doesn't decide for other people. It gives them the information and lets them decide whether they can respond. The interdependent mentality says, "I allow others to make their own decisions about time," "I respect other people's time by being efficient and effective with my requests," or "I call on people in a way that honors their time."

- Independent thinkers are convinced they should be smart enough to figure it out or will be perceived as inadequate if seeking help of any kind. The interdependent thinker understands that, "I'm smart enough to include others," "People will know I respect their opinion if I approach them about this," or "People will realize how determined I am to accomplish this when I approach them for assistance." (Many additional examples of independent vs. interdependent thinking are given in Fisher's book.)