Quite unexpectedly, one of the ideals that stuck with me from college came from a business management class. This class focused on being an effective manager… something I’m rather uninterested in, but the class still resonated with me because of the management style that was most highly praised: decentralization.
Management theorists have two main theories about motivation, which are unhelpfully dubbed Theory X and Theory Y. To boil each theory down: Theory X says people must be told what to do and directed from the top, and Theory Y says that people can be motivated and make decisions themselves in the right environment. From the class, I learned that a manager with a Theory Y approach tends to empower the managees and make them feel more responsible, leading to a greater sense of reward which increases productivity and their satisfaction with their jobs, not to mention greater respect for their manager because he/she treats them with the dignity they deserve. Inadvertently, this ideal meshed in my mind with several other observations, coming both from my personal experience and from other classes I took at around the same time. Whether warranted or not, I now tend to apply the Theory Y ideal, decentralization of power, to several (all?) other areas.