Leading With A Declaration of Independence

We have just celebrated one of the most important events in our history – the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  The document itself is still revered by people and cultures from every part of our planet because of the simple, clear message that we all have inalienable individual rights.  While we sometimes debate the interpretation we are generally able to hang together rather than hang separately.

In our executive lives, the encouragement of independence is challenging for many, especially leaders who see too much diversity in approaches and opinions as an impediment to reaching a specific outcome.  In my experience, the most successful executives over time actually embrace independence.  This is what they see:

  • Encouraging individual autonomy is crucial for promoting the productive efforts of creative people.  They thrive with this kind of support.
  • Promoting independence of spirit is one of the best ways to discover what people will accomplish on their own and with other team members without the constant presence of micro-management.
  • Independence accelerates the learning curve for self-initiation.  The converse tends to discourage the same folks and they will often seek greener pastures.

Independent action has its risks, especially if the individual is acting with sociopathy and a lack of consideration for others. But the greater a leader’s support for well-intentioned innovators with an independent spirit, the stronger the positive message to everyone that there are many ways to build a successful organization.