There is an idea expressed in both the Tao te Ching and the I Ching that the way to power is through humility. Ruby liked to explain this in terms of corporate paradigms. The usual paradigm is that the powerful are on top and the actual workers underneath. The I Ching would say that this is the way of stagnation, because the top and the bottom pull away from each other. The Tao asks us: “How does the sea become the king of all streams? By being lower than they.” (#66)
Isn’t it true? How often do the people who wear the suits and sit in the offices and dictate policy really have no clue what’s really going on down in the trenches? As a result, meaningful change isn’t made.
If you turn this idea on its head though, you have the leaders putting themselves under the subordinates, the ones who actually do the work. The I Ching says this is the way of peace, because now the top and the bottom are moving towards each other instead of away. The Tao says: “The best way to employ a man is to serve under him”. (#68)
Isn’t this also true? The leaders will listen to the workers, and the workers will talk because they are being listened to. The result is cooperation, and meaningful change. This is how I have always sought to carry out my job, by seeking out those who my policies will actually affect, and get their input. Who better to influence policy than the ones who the policy will actually be applied to?
It boggles my mind that this seems to be the exception, rather than the rule. I would think it common sense.