Tag Archive for: Organisation development


We are already in the middle of the New Work era. The problem with New Work is that the focus is usually on structural measures. For example, working hours are quickly cut and hierarchical levels removed. Not too seldom, however, this does not have the desired effect and leads to identity problems, politicisation and complexity problems instead of motivation and increased performance.

What is missing here? The view from within.

Surprisingly, our research is quite a bit ahead of our economy here. As early as 1949, Harry Harlow experimented with laboratory monkeys on this topic. In the experiment, the monkeys were asked to solve a motor task (see illustration).

Source: Pink, D. H. (2015): Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Riverhead Books, New York.

At that time (and to some extent still today), the idea was: what drives us are either (1) our biological urges or (2) carrots and sticks. In other words, rewards and punishment. Things got interesting when the monkeys showed interest in the task even before the experiment started. And not only interest… they solved the task without any incentives.

This gave rise to a new theory: there is a third drive. A drive from within. Triggered by doing and trying the thing itself. Later, it was realised that people also have this drive, called intrinsic motivation: people want to expand their abilities on their own.

Great. Is it possible to activate this intrinsic motivation in our employees? One way to do this is through psychological empowerment. That is, empowerment needs a psychological component.

Intrinsic motivation through psychological empowerment

The term “empowerment”, referring to the empowerment of employees – mostly in the course of democratisation in the company – is unfortunately often quickly pushed aside as a buzzword. What has been problematic in implementation so far is that in the context of empowerment only the structural component (e.g. the removal of hierarchical levels) has been considered.

However, in recent years we have learned from Gretchen Spreitzer and extensive research based on her findings: people interpret their environment individually. That is, removing one level of hierarchy has a liberating effect on one person, while others lose an important point of orientation as a result. A broader view, the interpretation on a psychological level, is essential here to enable the empowerment of employees. In this context, there are four work-related perceptions that shape our role and thus the shaping of our possibilities for psychological empowerment:


Source: The Company Journey Guides GmbH

People who feel psychologically empowered experience their work as meaningful (significance). They feel confident in their work tasks (competence). They perceive autonomy (self-determination) and are convinced that their work can make a difference (influence).

Here, the perception of psychological empowerment is based on a high expression of each facet. If one facet is low, the construct loses stability.

Why we should engage more with psychological empowerment

The concept of psychological empowerment has already been examined in numerous studies and research papers. What is particularly exciting is that there are numerous correlations with benefits for employees but also for the organisation as a whole.

On the employee side:

On the organisation side:

For most companies today, the main focus is on generally increased performance. This can sometimes be explained by the fact that the trust gained through self-determination and influence is repaid through conscientious and uncomplicated behaviour.

Utilising the psychological component of empowerment in the right way

Especially in today’s world, it is important to understand that control from the outside is neither manageable nor desirable in many areas. Psychological empowerment relies on the view from within. It gives us a chance to sustainably inspire our employees by activating their intrinsic motivation.

In the course of redesigning one’s own work, it is therefore well worth considering setting psychological empowerment as a target. Those who would like to use psychological empowerment for themselves must bear in mind that there is no universally valid special recipe for this. As explained at the beginning, the concept is based on the individual perception of each employee. Therefore, it is first necessary to recognise and understand the point of view and needs of one’s own employees.

The same also applies to the manager. Why not start with a small personal experiment? Ask yourself these two questions every day after work and take 5 minutes to reflect.

Which work situation has made you feel empowered?
In which situations have you experienced less empowerment?
Once it becomes clear what is lacking, there are a wide variety of human resource development measures that can strengthen the perceived psychological empowerment across the individual facets, such as:

Source: The Company Journey Guides GmbH

And it is clear – empowerment needs a psychological component.

We are looking forward to hearing about your experiences. You can also find more on this topic in our Learning Nugget New Work in a nutshell.


This blog was written by Leoni Meffle.


About two years ago, Eva-Maria Danzer and Barbara Wietasch exchanged their experiences on leadership and transformation. This led to the development of the Shared LeaderShift model. The approach to leverage the transformation of organizations through shared leadership. Just as the first practical tests were about to start, the pandemic entered the scene. So Shared LeaderShift had to rest for a while to prove itself in practice. But now we are starting with it: Shared LeaderShift in experiment.

Shared LeaderShift Deep Dive

First, let’s take a look at the model. What exactly distinguishes Shared LeaderShift? The idea behind this approach is to divide leadership among several shoulders and then provide it in cooperation. Unlike already familiar models such as job sharing, the idea is not that several, usually two, people share one leadership role. Rather, there are several leadership roles, each of which is performed by different people.

Shared LeaderShift is based on four different roles: the actual leadership is shared by three roles – the People & Culture Lead, the Team & Performance Lead and the Customer & Value Lead. They work together in the day-to-day business and deliver leadership performance together and at eye level.
These three roles are supplemented by the Purpose & Strategy Lead, which, following the model, is not performed by one person but by a team across the organization.
Here you can find a video showing how these roles work together in the company.

Shared leadership is on the rise

The model developed by Barbara and Eva has in theory already proven its future potential. For some time now, they have been popping up everywhere on shared leadership models. Currently still increasingly at home in job sharing. However, now also increasingly – coming from the agile world and from Scrum – in approaches with actually shared leadership roles. Especially in the IT environment, the People & Culture Lead has already established itself as an independent role. Examples can be found in this podcast, in which  People & Culture Lead reports on her role, and in the current video from bonprix, part of the Otto Group.

What makes Shared LeaderShift unique

However, Shared LeaderShift (SLS) goes well beyond the approaches mentioned here. Two areas in particular should be highlighted:
The role of the Customer & Value Lead, which gives the customer a permanent place in the daily business of leadership and thus expands leadership to include the external perspective. I.e., every mini-leadership team is already cross-functional as well
The interface of collaboratively and equally provided shared leadership to the corporate culture (and here then also the Purpose & Strategy Lead).
The SLS model is based on collaboration and cooperation as core values. Every decision in the leadership team is discussed and found together. This not only creates harmony in external perception, it also provides a role model for self-organization and decision-making.

Shared LeaderShift in experiment

Sounds innovative and inspiring. It seems conclusive in principle. However, it also raises questions such as:
– Doesn’t this approach require a lot more resources, i.e. don’t we have then three FTEs in management instead of one?
– Doesn’t this create chaos? Whom are the employees supposed to address then?
– Isn’t it incredibly time-consuming to make all decisions together in the management team?
– What conditions must be met for this to work at all? Are managers capable of this kind of leadership?

We think these are justified questions that can only be answered by testing them in practice.

And that is why we have now set out with Shared LeaderShift as an experiment at The Company Journey Guides.
Over a period of 6-9 months, we will practice SLS in our team.
Since August, we have taken the three roles in operational leadership and are currently adjusting to it.
As the consulting approach of Shared LeaderShift suggests, the work in the leadership team is done under guidance or supervision.
We will share our experiences from time to time in further TCJG Cases and finally evaluate them.
The initiators of SLS, Eva-Maria Danzer and Barbara Wietasch, will make their findings available in a further white paper on Shared LeaderShift.


More on the topic also in this TCJG blog: From Leadership to Leader Shift