Dependency on leadership

by Christian Kurmann

Leadership is a process of social influence where one person uses the support of other to accomplish a common goal. 



Leadership is a practical skill, as it regards an individual’s ability to lead, guide and inspire others. Often leaders may give advice or have their own personal biases that may create a hidden reliance on them. Employees may feel a sense of security knowing that they have someone to rely upon when they are unsure about challenges. In return, the leader ensures that his employees remain loyal.

Even though this isn’t always the case, leadership dependency happens all too often. The aim of leaders should rather be to create self-reliance among their employees. Only when a leader is able to distance or dismiss himself, can he be viewed as a true mentor.  He must create a perfect balance between the extent of guidance and suggestion, and giving the necessary responsibility to his employees.  Knowing these boundaries is crucial for leaders. 

Often leaders’ egos are standing in the way of good mentoring. When a leader is not controlled by his ego, he will not have the need to control, advise or be right at all costs.  Successful results are vital, but there is a big difference between being ego-driven and achieving the necessary results. Only when the needs, expectations and promises of both the leader and his employees are clearly stated will the level of leadership dependency become clear.

Advantaged technology has improved the world in many ways, but it has also become evident that organisations have become much too dependent on that very technology. This high level of leader dependency on technology is oddly dangerous, as too much dependency can lead to impatience and forgetfulness. It also impairs human-to-human connection and communication. Most leaders recognise that technology often fails at some point; therefore they practice working outside the scope of complex technology and focus instead on building up their organisations to have stronger and more resilient teams. 

An organisation’s ability to achieve success depends mostly on the effectiveness of its leaders. Sometimes leaders are under immense time pressures, with the expectation that they must achieve the necessary results in extremely short time frames.  Consequently, they may be tempted to make decisions by themselves, rather than communicating the process to their employees. A true mentor, though, knows how to inspire and direct employees to find realistic and sustainable solutions.

Leaders must consider the difference between independence, dependence and interdependence, as each has both a downside and an upside.


Independence involves being free of external control and constraints by others.


Most leaders assume that they are independent, and become arrogant. Too much independence may lead to a lack of coordination and accountability, which is the downfall. The upside, however, is that independent leaders realise that all people are equal, and may encourage their employees to be independent as well.


Dependency implies the state of being controlled by someone, and relying on them to provide the necessary guidelines. 


Even though it is not ideal to be dependent on others, the upside of dependency is that leaders have to depend on their employees in order for the organisation to work efficiently. Successful leadership relies on being trustworthy and encouraging trustworthiness from employees.


Interdependence implies leaders and employees being dependent on each other.


This involves a dynamic of being physically and mutually responsible for accomplishing a common set of goals. A true leader will actively create interconnectedness within his organisation, as he views the organisation as a whole, made up from separate parts, but acknowledging that all parts are essential for survival. People can learn from each other and enrich each other’s thinking, even though they were brought up with different beliefs and values.

Good leaders are always willing to learn. We are mutually dependent on each other to expand our minds, attitudes, approaches and motivations. Leaders who do not act interdependently will eventually get stuck in inadequate traditions. They must therefore learn the importance of teamwork, where employees bring along their strengths, humility, skills and great ideas.

The interdependence of skills and insights will bring out the best in all members and ultimately lead to empowered achievements. Although employees often depend on leaders, or even other employees, for inner security, they must learn to move on from their need for recognition.  They must rather focus on becoming interdependent in order to grow.  They should stop wanting to be in someone else’s shoes and rather embrace their own positive attributes. This will ultimately lead to having the confidence to become leadership independent.

Christian Kurmann