With increased seniority, there is certainly greater responsibility and decision making power. However, what people often forget is that interdependency increases with seniority. A common mistake people make is to try and operate as a one (wo)man show. When people do this they become overwhelmed, resentful and the workplace culture can be very negative with a lack of idea sharing and collaborative problem solving, ultimately contributing to decreased company/firm performance. You can read more about ‘Office Politics’ here.

Why interdependency increases

  • There are fewer roles the more senior you become so it is down to you to engage with other department heads to share best practice, make leadership decisions and discuss cross-selling/working possibilities where appropriate.
  • If you are not seen by more junior team members to have strong relationships across the business, this can impact how your, and the overall, leadership of the company or firm is viewed.
  • You may need additional resource at some point and the quickest and most viable solution may be another team in the organisation.
  • You are more visible as an individual the more senior you become which is helpful for your career, assuming you have built the relationships positively. You become even more reliant on a smaller number of people to play their part in making sure you have the right opportunities.
  • There is a less linear approach the more senior you become, the work you do and the proposals you put forward are more likely to be reviewed by the most senior people in the organisation, rather than just your immediate boss.

The positive side to interdependency is, when people are willing to engage more with others and ask for input when required, then others do the same. This creates a more honest and open culture where the best solutions are found as a greater variety of input is considered. Overall, companies and firms perform better when these attributes are present in the working culture.

Steps to take to improve your interdependency

  1. Be honest with yourself, do you often try and progress projects/solve issues without the input of colleagues who could provide valuable help and insight? Could this be holding back your career? If this is a challenge for you, identify when you do this, why and how you could start asking for others’ input and insight.
  2. Are there areas where you are currently overreaching and treading on someone’s toes? If so, what is behind that? You think you can do better? What could be the benefit to you and others to stepping back and focusing on what you really need to?
  3. Consider what business benefits there could be by working more closely with others. This could be related to internal ways of working or cross-selling opportunities. For instance if you are a Private Client Tax Partner in an accountancy firm, which other partners could you get to know better to look at how you could service one another’s clients? Relationships need to be built for this to actually happen. No Partner will refer their valuable client to someone else in their own firm if they don’t know them and trust them enough to look after the client.
  4. Which people of your own level and above do you tend to avoid because of something that happened in the past? Has the time now come to let that go and give those relationships another chance? If you’re stuck in a negative cycle, what can you do to break it?

There is often a lot of pressure to just get on with things and do them ourselves. However, interdependency increases with seniority, so it is essential you make sure you are making the best use of it and engaging with others effectively. This will bring about the best outcomes for your career and your company or firm. How can you best use your abilities and those of others to work together more effectively?

Building positive professional relationships is a key part of career progression. To read more, request my Nine Skills needed for career success below:

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