How Much Freedom is Good for Employees


Wie viel Freiheit für Mitarbeiter gut ist


How much freedom is good for employees is a much-discussed question: how much freedom is beneficial, and how much control is necessary? This topic is becoming increasingly important as our world, and consequently our work life, becomes more complex and changes rapidly. Many refer to it as the VUCA world, where V stands for volatility, U for uncertainty, C for complexity, and A for ambiguity. It should be self-evident that leaders must adapt their leadership style to these changes. This means that highly controlling leadership often cannot work today because the world is changing too fast, becoming too complex, and maintaining control is extremely difficult.

From our perspective, one possible leadership response is transformational leadership. As the name suggests, transformational leadership aims to “transform” – to change. Transformational leadership has been shown to deliver higher economic performance because employees trust their leader, show loyalty, initiative, and develop team spirit. The leader serves as a role model throughout this process. Our intention here is not to present the complex construct of transformational leadership but to encourage consideration, as research has shown that transformational leadership promotes resilience.


Four criteria of transformational leadership


A pioneer in the field of transformational leadership is the American industrial-organizational psychologist Bernard Morris Bass. He identifies four criteria that should determine transformational leadership:

    • Leaders must serve as role models,
    • inspire motivation,
    • stimulate intellectually,
    • and provide individual support.


Challenge for the leader


A leader who wants to adopt a transformational leadership style based on these criteria faces several challenges. For example, they must trust employees, enable flexibility, empower them to make their own decisions, and provide constructive feedback. Furthermore, they must ensure that open discourse is possible, make decisions that reflect employees’ views while keeping sight of the company’s goals. The leader must not only be a good role model and coach but must also have great confidence in themselves and their employees. For most leaders, this means they must first develop themselves. Often, a new vision and new structures need to be developed, and resources need to be built up.



Debora Karsch, CEO and Master Trainer at persolog GmbH

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