Without a culture of trust, no agility. Cargo cult yes, but no agility. And without agility there is no chance of at least surviving digitalization, let alone benefiting from it. In an agile organization, responsible and empowered people can quickly make customer-oriented decisions in decentralized structures. This requires trust. They make these decisions in complex and uncertain environments, validate them through rapid implementation and learn particularly from failures. And that needs even more trust.
Making decisions is often considered an essential element of leadership. An elite circle of executives makes decisions; at least the big and strategic ones and sometimes, depending on the level of trust in the organization, also decisions on details, leading to the plague of micromanagement. Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, is leading differently. He prides himself on making as few decisions as possible. And his success shows that he is right, as 20 years after its foundation Netflix is now the tenth largest Internet company in the world (Wikipedia).
The very essence of leadership is to provide orientation. That’s why leadership is crucial in agile organizations. Agility requires orientation to be effective. Without this orientation, agility becomes arbitrary. It misses the alignment towards a common goal. This raises the question of how leadership should provide orientation today. On the one hand steering precisely with command and control or on the other hand providing direction with vision and purpose and relying on the best possible contributions of the teams. “Purpose and Trust over Command and Control” is therefore the third thesis of the Manifesto for Human Leadership (you may also sign it on this occasion!), which is discussed in more detail in this third part of the explanations.