In Agility, Leo Tilman and Charles Jacoby explain how to “navigate the unknown and seize opportunity in a world of disruption.” They correctly assert that, in a workplace environment — what they characterize as the agility “setting” — empowerment, vigilance, accountability, and trust are absolutely essential.
Only then can there be what Daniel Kahneman calls a special kind of engagement and Jonathan Haidt calls exploratory thinking.
According to Tilman and Jacoby, “Empowered and accountable employees feel in control of their lives, which is one of the strongest human desires. They are more committed to a shared purpose and more capable of thinking abstractly, integrating information and uncovering patterns and relationships in data. They are more willing to take risk and show initiative, more focused on capturing opportunities, not just on mitigating threats.”
Ultimately, organizations can only be agile in ways and to the extent its people are and that, in turn, will depend on a special kind of leadership at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise.
Tilman and Jacoby: “When leaders relentlessly invest in authentic relationships, demonstrate care and empathy for their people, mentor and inspire, they harness the power of other core foundations of morality: liberty and loyalty.” This is precisely what Lao-tse has in mind in this passage from Tao Te Ching:
“Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves.”