The Leipzig Leadership Model

A Compass for Good Leadership

The Leipzig Leadership Model

Re-Thinking Leadership

Leadership has always been demanding. This holds particularly true in times of fundamental change, which we are experiencing nowadays, driven by globalization, digitalization and the ecological movement. Where do leaders find orientation in these fast-moving times to form critical and creative opinions on complex matters and topics which can contribute to the big picture? Questions on the 'why' and 'whereto', the 'what' and 'how' as well as the consistency of the respective answers to these questions are gaining a new type of significance, particularly with regard to the latest generation of junior executives.

"With the new Leipzig Leadership Model, we would like to offer orientation in the sense of a compass. The model is not normative as it does not aim to prescribe the goals and values of good leadership. Instead, it provides notes on fundamental, not to be neglected dimensions of good leadership which initially lead rather to questions than to answers," says HHL Dean Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart. The model places high emphasis on further development and has clearly-defined dimensions (the 'why', 'how' and 'what') which offer orientation to executives in rapidly changing environments. 

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“Talented and successful employees with many different traits are the heart and soul of a successful company. They must all be joined together in their passion to contribute to the company and to move it forward. ZEIT has a multi-faceted team of women and men, young and old, which is excited to face the new opportunities brought about by globalization and digitalization. In this context, the new Leipzig Leadership Model serves as an important guideline as it unites theory and practice in the endeavor to re-think leadership.”
Dr. Rainer Esser, DIE ZEIT Publishing Group
Dr. Rainer Esser (DIE ZEIT Publishing Group)
“Globalization and digitalization demand new things from executives. The Leipzig Leadership Model gives practical, simple and robust impetus for how decision-makers can master the future successfully."
Georg Fahrenschon, Deutscher Sparkassen und Giroverband e. V
Georg Fahrenschon (Deutscher Sparkassen und Giroverband e. V.)
"I read with great interest your leadership model. I think it is excellent. It should help guide HHL for many years."
Prof. Robert G. Hansen, Ph.D., Tuck School of Business at Darthmouth
Prof. Robert G. Hansen, Ph.D. (Tuck School of Business at Darthmouth)
"The Leipzig Leadership Model offers an integrative as well as generic guideline to ensure a sustainable value added chain in times of digital transformation."
Prof. Dr. Iris Hausladen, Heinz Nixdorf Chair of IT-based Logistics
Prof. Dr. Iris Hausladen (Heinz Nixdorf Chair of IT-based Logistics)
"We need an understanding of leadership which offers orientation. Now, there is an extensive concept for it. Thank you!”
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Lehner, Henkel AG & Co. KGaA
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Lehner (Henkel AG & Co. KGaA)
Drucker had three basic interests that are reflected in his work, and in the Leipzig Leadership Model. All three manifest his European heritage as well as American history and management. First, he was concerned with the balance between the processes of continuity and change. His work on entrepreneurship followed naturally. Second he was interested in “freedom, the dignity the status of the person in modern society, the role and function of organization as instrument of human achievement, human growth and human fulfillment, and the need of the individual for both, society and community.” Third, he worked to establish conditions for legitimate authority in all of society’s organizations. The Leipzig Leadership model very much reflects Drucker’s vision in all three aspects. By putting the deeper question of purpose at the models’ center stage, it perfectly frames leadership as what is according to Peter Drucker: a liberal art.
Prof. Joseph Maciariello, Drucker Institute
Prof. Joseph Maciariello (Drucker Institute)
EEX Group is an internationally operating group of companies with more than 400 employees working in 15 locations worldwide. Common values are essential to ensure sustainable success of EEX Group as a whole. In this context, the Leipzig Leadership Model provides us with new impulses on how to transfer our values into targeted strategies, structures and processes during our daily business.
Peter Reitz, CEO of European Energy Exchange AG
"Globalization, digitalization and the demand for ecological sustainability represent new challenges for leadership. Therefore, the orientation towards the purpose of an organization, which is introduced in the Leipzig Leadership Model, serves as an outstanding guideline to reflect upon the many external influences, requirements and the question of how to handle them internally.”
Prof. Dr. Helga Rübsamen-Schaeff, AiCuris GmbH & Co. KG
Prof. Dr. Helga Rübsamen-Schaeff (AiCuris GmbH & Co. KG)
"For me, ‘rethinking leadership’, ‘licence to operate’ and ‘responsible leadership’ are the three core terms which the Leipzig Leadership Model not only proclaims but also convincingly substantiates with its serious efforts to determine the ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ of good leadership. Digitalization and constant change are massively challenging good leadership these days – with this new approach, HHL has indeed become a pacemaker for a holistic understanding of leadership."
Prof. Dr. Burkhard Schwenker, Roland Berger GmbH
Prof. Dr. Burkhard Schwenker (Roland Berger GmbH)


The premise of the new Leipzig Leadership Model also includes a concept of the human being which is characterized by respect for the dignity of fellow human beings and their entitlement to freedom and participation. Moreover, leaders do not act independently in some sort of vacuum but always within the framework of an organization which is the overriding concern. Leadership in an organization occurs in the competitive environment created within the society, according to another core assumption of the Leipzig Leadership Model. And last but not least: Good leadership requires realistic expectations and supporting structures.

Compared to the previous HHL Management Model, which had a stronger systemic and integrative focus, the Leipzig Leadership Model focuses more on the individual and the innovativeness of the organization, placing the human being and the value contribution at the forefront. In times of rapid transition with frequently changing strategy, purpose-oriented entrepreneurial leadership creates both the necessary stability and flexibility. Responsible leadership which is committed to the big picture ensures the 'license to operate'. In contrast to past leadership models, we now see the human being as very entrepreneurially-minded and innovation-oriented – not just integrated into an isolated process cycle but into a constantly radical and incremental innovation process. One reason for this is the fact that life cycles today overlap much more than in the past.


Purpose - Entrepreneurial Spirit - Responsibility - Effectiveness

The new Leipzig Leadership Model consists of the four dimensions of purpose, entrepreneurial spirit, responsibility and effectiveness.

Purpose emphasizes the end-means relation in leadership work, i.e. the question of the 'why', the goal and purpose of a task but also the legitimization of a business model, a company and finally of the entire foundation of the market order.

The key to sustainable development is the power of renewal of the individual, organization and society or, in short, the entrepreneurial spirit. With this dimension, the Leipzig Leadership Model underlines entrepreneurially-oriented innovative leadership.

Responsibility represents another fundamental dimension of good leadership which requires special attention as a condition restricting the pursuit of the respective purpose. A purpose which cannot be achieved in a responsible manner can therefore be no subject matter of good leadership.

Entrepreneurially-oriented and responsible leadership of businesses and other institutions faces the challenge that decisions and actions to achieve a contribution to the big picture must be carefully considered due to limited resources and the competitive conditions. The questions of what is the right way (effectiveness) and how a chosen path can be taken (efficiency) to achieve a predefined goal with limited means in a competitive environment. Therefore, effectiveness represents a core dimension of the Leipzig Leadership Model. It translates responsible entrepreneurial decisions into targeted strategies, structures and processes to achieve a competitive contribution to the big picture.

Opportunities and Tensions

The Leipzig Leadership Model motivates active reflection of the opportunities and fields of tension in the dimensions described above. "Recognizing and utilizing potential is a crucial precondition for value contributions and, ultimately, the company's success. Consequently, good leadership also means recognizing potential in yourself, within the organization and in the social environment and exploit it in a targeted manner," comments HHL Dean Prof. Dr. Pinkwart. Due to the highly complex reality, however, leaders must also face the challenges which arise when working to achieve a goal. This can be done by addressing the typical conflict fields of good leadership, i.e.

  • purpose and responsibility
  • responsibility and effectiveness
  • effectiveness and entrepreneurial spirit
  • entrepreneurial spirit and responsibility.

Value Contribution

A Yardstick for Leadership Performance

Leadership means making a contribution to the big picture which is seen as sensible and valuable by others. Leadership performance is measured consistently by its value contribution in the Leipzig Leadership Model. The idea of a value contribution addresses many different kinds of values; financial-economic, cultural and social ones as well as other non-financial values. The value contribution therefore represents a contribution which is appreciated by individuals, organizations and society to an extent which more than justifies the investment of workforce, capital and natural resources. 

Model Development

HHL did not approach the important topic of Rethinking Leadership through the latest daily channels but pursued a systematic and sustainable dialog about the theory and practice with leaders from the economy, science and politics over the last five years. The school hosted and documented five major forums on the topic of 'Rethinking Leadership' welcoming over one hundred experts from science, the economy, media and politics. Chief executives and owner-managers from large DAX-listed companies and hidden champions talked about the latest leadership topics at HHL and discussed them with professors and students as part of the Leipzig Leadership Lecture series over the last couple of years. At the same time, research by HHL's chairs and centers on key issues such as trust, change, sustainability and responsibility was pushed forward at the school.

This dialog is now being transferred by a core team of faculty members (Prof. Dr. Manfred Kirchgeorg, Prof. Dr. Timo Meynhardt, Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart, Prof. Dr. Andreas Suchanek, Prof. Dr. Henning Zülch) in close collaboration with the faculty and the board of trustees into a consciously dynamic leadership model which is open to further development. In doing so, HHL is providing an opportunity to make this discourse available to the business practice, leadership research and instruction while continuing to promote it in its own academic programs and executive education.

HHL is offering the chance to discuss about the new Leipzig Leadership Model with representatives from the economy and science as well as the school's alumni chapters at this year's HHL Forum (December 6 and 7, 2016) as well as during a number of national and international events scheduled for next year.

Book Publication

A first edition of a publication on the Leipzig Leadership Model was handed out to the participants of the HHL Forum 2016 at which the model was presented for the first time.

A revised and enlarged second edition was published in March 2017. The Leipzig Leadership Model is presented in German and English. The book price is EUR 34.90.

The printed book is available in the book trade. E-book versions are also available, e.g. as Kindle Edition, or in EPUB or PDF format at The price of the e-book is EUR 19.99.

Kirchgeorg, Manfred; Meynhardt, Timo; Pinkwart, Andreas; Suchanek, Andreas; Zülch, Henning: 
Das Leipziger Führungsmodell: the Leipzig Leadership Model. 
2. überarbeitete und erweiterte Auflage. Leipzig: HHL gGmbH, HHL Academic Press, 2017. 
ISBN 978-3-9818509-2-5
ISBN 978-3-9818509-3-2 (EPUB)
ISBN 978-3-9818509-4-9 (PDF)

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