What is this?
These are the primary levels of competence used by Dr. Stephen R. Covey to differentiate human development.
Why is this important?
A lack of understanding of these states of competence generally prevents deliberate development to the highest level and often leads to learned helplessness which keeps many people in the the dependent state. Also, many people mistakenly believe that when they have reached the level of independence in their work and life, that they have "arrived" and that they occupy the highest state. Unfortunately for such people, they do not understand or drive for the higher state of interdependence which yields the highest levels of production and quality of life.
In fact, one cannot enter into the real state of interdependence without first reaching the level of independence. A significant problem we face today is the confusion of dependency with interdependency. Only people who have reached the level of independence can "drive" genuine win/win exchanges and negotiations...at best, dependent people can be a party to such an interaction, but they cannot facilitate, originate, or manage one.