The choice to which Dan Ariely is refers is the choice of how beggars effectively approach their potential patrons. He writes about a quick experiment which showed that, when asking total strangers for money, what worked best was a very personal approach, looking people in the eye or even holding their hands out, to either shake or recieve money.
In the experiment, the would-be-beggar received more money when he was standing and looking people in the eye. In other words, he moved from being an anonymous object, a part of the environment, to being a fellow human being with needs and a personal story. There may be a lesson for leadership here; if you are truly interested in the wellbeing of your organization, walk among the staff and see them not as “FTEs”, or “heads”or “resources”, but as individual people.
Then again, maybe that is why so many leaders never do just that.