Overcoming dependency on the behaviour of others

Elon Musk

Another common type of “mis-blink” we can easily fall into during times of change is called dependency.

Dependency happens when a person knows what they want to do but refuses to do it unless someone else behaves in a particular way. They make their own behaviour conditional or ‘dependent’ on the behaviour of others.

In many cases this is a normal, healthy business practice: “I will deliver this service, but only if you agree to pay me XYZ amount.” Or “I will pay you XYZ amount, but only dependent on the quality of the service you provide.”

But in other situations, dependency can prevent us from achieving our most important goals.

In June 2014, for example, Tesla Motors realised that the royalties it was charging for its batteries were holding the company back from achieving its strategic goals. Tesla decided to give up those royalties and licensing fees, even though they were part of normal business practice.

As founder Elon Musk explained:

“Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal.”

Letting go of dependency allows innovation and new business models to emerge. When Airbnb and Uber, for example, let go of their dependency or requirement to own their own taxis and hotels and employ and directly control large numbers of people, they freed themselves to transform entire industries.

In a time of churning the old rules break down. Now we face a choice: either to continue to apply the old dependencies or to “Do it anyway” and become the people and leaders we truly could be.

Is there an area in your life where you are not getting the results you want because you are making your own behaviour dependent on the behaviour of others? What would happen if you let go of that requirement or loosened it a little? What would happen if you “Did it anyway”? What would happen if your competitors did?


Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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Photo By Tesla Club Belgium via StockPholio.net

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