Realistic Optimism

A Sense of Agency

Every time that I’m called in to work with a CEO who is in trouble, I’m asked, Is the executive savable? Is it worth trying? And while the answer is rarely simple, the single most telling factor is the individual’s sense of agency. Change is possible; everyone is teachable and can grow and improve. But if the person has a low sense of agency, then change will be extraordinarily tough, costly, and lengthy and will require highly skilled intervention.

Sense of agency, the second component of realistic optimism, refers to the degree to which people attribute their circumstances and the outcomes they experience ...

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