What's Your Paradigm?

I am studying the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People with some of our staff and today we were talking about Covey‘s idea that we should move from dependence to independence to interdependence

Dependence – the paradigm of youyou take care of me

Independence – the paradigm of II can do it; I am responsible; I am self-reliant; I can choose

Interdependence – the paradigm of wewe can do it; we can cooperate; we can combine our talents and abilities and create something greater together

This idea of interdependence is really critical for your growth and health as an individual and your ability to work as a team. 

Then tonight I stumbled upon this quote from John C. Maxwell that reinforced the idea from the leadership perspective:

Managers are maintainers, tending to rely on systems and controls.  Leaders are innovators and creators who rely on people.

So where do you fall within these three paradigms? 

[I’ll tell you if you tell me.]

You may also like


  • Aaron July 7, 2008  

    i would say i fall in the ‘paradigm of we’

    i definitely recognize that ‘we’ is more powerful than ‘I’

    however, i often find myself falling back to the ‘paradigm of I’ when others in my organization don’t seem interested in working together

    i want to get to the point where i can lead others to see that we can create something greater when we work together as a team

  • alex mclean July 8, 2008  

    in theory I am “we” – it’s right most of the time and makes sense.

    in practice I fall between “I” and “we”, sometimes closer to “I”. (sounds like Aaron) I’m learning though – to let go and give opportunities for others to succeed/fail and take the responsibility for either.

    Because of that, I think I’m a manager who leads. Does that make sense? I have lot’s of dreams and vision, but I also rely on systems and controls to execute.

  • janowen July 8, 2008  

    I think I am definitely a “we”. I do this more instinctively because I enjoy collaboration so much. HOWEVER, within all of my ministry relationships it probably doesn’t pan out this way. I am not sure you can always be a “we” if others refuse to be an “I”. I’m not sure if that makes sense or not. Some will not come along to be the “We”.

    I work with ALL vols and I think at times we are different places with different people. For the most part I am a “we”. It’s definitely what I believe in.

  • brandiandboys July 8, 2008  

    I fall between “I” and “we”. I think I waver based on what the activity or expectation is!

    Great question.

  • Jenn July 8, 2008  

    I think I go toward ‘we’ more but that is because I tried to be the I for so long! Sometimes it is a struggle to keep the we mentality but the reality for me is that it is not about me…it is about a team, whether it be as a leader, mom or wife. For me to be the best I can, I need other people that are striving for the same goals with me.

  • catchthevision July 8, 2008  

    Thanks for this. I really liked this combination of humanity and business management.

    As someone from across the pond, I’ve been trying to understand why America is so very independent minded, and I even wondered if it had anything to do with learning styles. I’ve had some interesting comments. I wonder what you think? Have a look at “Happy Independence Day, USA!”

    In case of any interest, I’ve also blogged on the difference between leadership and management (a posting about “Politics with a “P” or “p” “).

    Keep up the good work . . . . .

    Url: http://catchthevision.wordpress.com

  • Heidi July 8, 2008  

    I’ll be honest.. I struggled in the me world.

    But I realized after our church changed leaderships that “WE” makes sense..

    I’m definately in the “we” world now.

  • Brooke July 8, 2008  

    I have to say I work to stay in the “we” paradigm. I appreciate the give and take. Working from home sometimes pushes me into the “I” category, and I can tell I’m not always at my best there. Perhaps I need the accountability?

  • JudiFree.com July 8, 2008  

    Funny enough, I’m independent at work, but interdependent in ministry.

  • janowen July 8, 2008  

    i will add that at times it’s tempting to be “i” cause it can seem easier to begin with and we have supposed quality assurance that way. 🙂 (for us control freaks) I struggle with the temptation to just do it myself since I can control it myself and get it done the way I have envisioned it in my head.

    But I LOVE collaboration – I like to do things together. I’m not a loner at all.

  • Pete Wilson July 8, 2008  

    I love ministry that is done in the “we” type environment. It’s not always easy but I always feel like I’m in my sweet spot when I’m dreaming and doing ministry with others.

  • Marla Saunders July 8, 2008  

    Being totally transparent, I live in the “I” world. I would love to be in the “we” world, but my family seems to be in the “you” world. I suppose I could go on strike…

  • onemorecup July 8, 2008  

    Great question indeed!

    I truly believe that along with Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” most people want to fall into the ‘we’ paradigm; albeit, very few can hold ranks when the rubber hits the road of accountability. Although we all want to ‘belong’ when it comes to moving up or ahead and sprinkled with a little bit of money, most tend to become irrevocably ‘I’s.’

    There have been a few times in my professional career when everything AND everyone came together and were so interdependent on getting the project completed, I really must admit these were by far the most rewarding and profitable. Thank you.


    PS Jenn: On leadership, see here.

  • Tommy Sircy July 8, 2008  

    Some of the old cars we had, back in the dark ages, would hang up between gears. I think I’m hung between the I and we paradigms.

    Seriously, I think it’s easy for us to forget that the church, in its inception, was a WE model infused with God dependence. That model has been monkeyed with down through the ages, but it’s never been improved.

    Great stuff, Jenni. Maxwell has some of the best material on leadership.

  • Jenni Catron July 8, 2008  

    Great discussion everyone! I definitely waffle between “I” and “we” and it can depend on the environment. I’ve learned to operate more in “we” in the workplace but I still default to “I” under pressure and I operate in “I” more at home and with my family. I think this is one of those things that we need to continually sharper ourselves on and challenge each other.

    I really appreciated all your comments today. Sorry that I haven’t chimed in earlier. I was in the great migration from my old Sony VAIO to my new MacBook Air – woohoo!