Reinhard K. Sprenger

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Reinhard K. Sprenger (born June 11, 1953 in Essen ) is a German author of management literature.


Reinhard K. Sprenger was born in Essen in 1953 and studied philosophy , psychology , business administration , history and sports at the Ruhr University in Bochum and at the Free University of Berlin . In 1985 he received his doctorate in philosophy. His doctoral thesis National Identity and Modernization was awarded the Carl Diem Prize . He is a lecturer at the universities of Berlin, Bochum, Essen and Cologne .

Sprenger worked as a scientific advisor at the Ministry of Culture of North Rhine-Westphalia . Then he trained sales representatives at 3M Medica in Borken and was promoted to head of personnel development and training. In 1990 he started his own business as a freelance speaker, trainer and consultant for personnel development. According to his own statements, he has many DAX companies in his customer base. Sprenger also wrote magazine articles and is the author of several books that have become bestsellers . Under the title Voices against the Standstill , he published a statement in 1997 on the Berlin speech Aufbruch in the 21st Century by the former Federal President Roman Herzog . Sprenger is also a musician .

Sprenger is married and has four children. He lives in Winterthur and at his home in New Mexico , United States . Through a friend, he established contact with the Hopi Indians in Arizona and has since been given permission to live with the tribe and take part in their consultations.

Sprenger's management theories

According to his management theory, only companies will be successful in the future that value employees as individuals and confidants. Motivation does not have to take place as external control through incentives, but from the person's own drive. Sprenger claims to use these lines of thought to break up existing views in the field of personnel management. Sprenger claims that his theories are valid both in the world of work and in private life.

Sprenger counters a patronizing style of management with his guiding principle “decency through distance”. He advocates leadership that holds back and does not try to solve every design problem with a guideline or narrow it down to a process.

21st century = age of the individual

Sprenger is convinced that in the future the individually manufactured product will be the success. Society will give much greater importance to such products. The prerequisite for the development of such products is freedom for the individual with regard to creativity, personal responsibility and flexibility. Therefore, only the individualizing companies will have long-term success. These are companies that allow the employee to develop as an individual. This freedom is not controlled through controls, but rather through trust .

Trust = basis of management

The trust between the supervisor and the employee has a strong influence on the success of the company. Companies gain flexibility through trust. Trust is the driving force for faster action and decision-making. Innovation and creativity are promoted through trust.

The employees rely on the trust of their superiors and expect errors to be tolerated to a certain extent. Without this security, employees are not ready to take risks. A certain willingness to take risks is in turn the prerequisite for creativity and innovation.

Trust leads to cost savings. Employees would have to spend less time reporting and could work productively during this time.

Trust between the employee and the supervisor is created when the supervisor takes the risk of giving the employee freedom. This freedom can be used to the detriment of the boss. As a rule, the available freedom has a positive effect on the motivation of the wage earner.

A waiver of control chosen by the boss sets the trust mechanism in motion. Existing security measures, regulations and mistrust rituals (target agreements and attached bonus systems) must be abolished. The greater the potential damage to the superior, the greater his or her trust. The subordinate feels the trust placed in him as an obligation. It creates the claim to provide something in return for the trust placed, for example in the form of a good job. This shows that trust and control belong together. The trust placed in them controls a person's behavior. It would be wrong to play trust against control. The opposite is true: trust is control.

Destroy trust

If the boss has become suspicious for any reason, he begins to lead the employee more closely. The wage earner sees this as a lack of confidence and then reduces his efforts to fulfill the trust placed in him. His motivation and work ethic decrease. This in turn confirms the superior in his view that the distrust placed in the employee is justified. The superior reacts to this with additional control measures, which the controlled tries to circumvent through creativity. The distrust that the leader wanted to fight has grown stronger.

How do you react sensibly to a breach of trust by the employee? The employer stops communication and thus withdraws the employee's trust for a certain period of time. Then he offers the employee the trust again. This gives the wage earner the opportunity to honor his boss's trust again and to compensate for his first breach of trust. A third time, the employee is not to be given such a chance.

Motivation ≠ Responsibility for managers

The motivation by managers is an external control. The employee does not work of his own accord, but is driven to perform at work by motivation attempts by the employer. The motivation is provided by injections of motivation (bonuses, holidays, gifts, ...). In the long term, this will start a vicious circle. The rewards are getting bigger and so are the costs. If the supervisor promises his salaried employee a motivational injection, the focus is no longer on the work, but rather on the reward. For this reason, the employee's creativity and ability to innovate are lost. Weak managers who do not recognize these connections keep asking for new motivational recipes.

There are other disadvantages to these motivational injections. The employees who do not receive their promised reward are demotivated. The employees try to push the ceiling further down so that they get their motivational injection faster. The wage earners are becoming more inefficient.

The injections of motivation trigger competition among employees and prevent them from working together. With this, the company destroys an important element to success. Sprenger therefore recommends only introducing profit sharing, because then the we - idea is in the foreground.

Follow your heart = no problems with motivation

The motivation must come from within, namely from the human being's awareness of being able to decide freely in every relationship. He must be ready to take responsibility for himself. The inner motivation arises by itself when the person does what he can best and what he would voluntarily spend his time with. Man should do his job with all his heart. He can't keep an eye on the reward. If the employee has a lack of motivation, he is in the wrong job or with the wrong employer.

Education = quality of managers

Education includes knowledge of literature, poetry, history and philosophy. Only with adequate education can the leader understand the desires, hopes, fears and expectations of the subordinates. Education results in humanity, determination, respect and appropriate judgments. Education enables managers to tailor the type of management to the individual wage earners. Education is therefore an important quality of managers for Sprenger.

Working groups only deliver mediocrity

Sprenger doesn't believe in working groups. Normally the working groups are perpendicular to the hierarchy . You have no competence . The decision is based on the constant hierarchy of the company. Working groups tend towards the middle. The creativity and identity of the individual are wiped out in the working group.

Abolish the company suggestion scheme

Since 1993, Sprenger has been calling for the company suggestion system to be abolished. The BVW, where employees receive bonuses for their suggestions for improvement, is like a drug scene and turns employees into permanent patients on a bonus drop. You can't make an effort to be creative.

Sprenger's economic theory

Sprenger blames the German state for the supposedly poor state of its economy at the beginning of the 21st century. The state tries to control the economy by creating subsidies and tax incentives. External control thus comes to the fore. This makes self-control meaningless. The management consultant believes that the state does not know the consequences of his actions and has lost faith in the citizens. Over time, the citizens began to doubt themselves and no longer dared to do anything. This means that the citizens' personal responsibility, initiative and motivation are lost. If people no longer had confidence in the economy, they would not put their resources into circulation.

Sprenger does not consider the solidarity that exists in Germany at the beginning of the 21st century to be appropriate. Solidarity must or should exist in the family, in friendship or among friends. The management author considers state-mandated solidarity to be unsuitable. The external control, which he perceived to be wrong, is in the foreground instead of the necessary internal control. In order for the German citizens to get out of the deadlocked situation again, they should give up their powerlessness and take responsibility for their own actions. The German state should withdraw from the lives of the citizens and allow them more freedom.

Sprenger demands that the tax system of the Federal Republic of Germany is increasingly interpreted as "fairness". In his opinion, these include increased support for consumption taxation and the abolition of progressive taxation. Furthermore, the business consultant calls for the abolition of corporate tax. In addition, taxes should be levied for specific projects, as is the case in Switzerland. He also calls for subsidies to be cut. For Sprenger, the quality of the social benefits does not match their prices. As a result, the German state first economizes in its own pocket and then turns to its citizens. Sprenger also calls for unemployment insurance to be abolished . In their place should come a state minimum benefit, which is financed through consumption taxes. The additional funds required will come from private foundations.

Sprenger describes himself as a "radical capitalist".


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. "The whole concept of leadership is ripe for a redefinition" (interview). In: Retrieved September 1, 2018 .
  2. Reinhard K. Sprenger: Abolish the suggestion system , in: Personalwirtschaft 8/1993, p. 20 ff; Ideas make money. Does money also bring ideas? in: Harvard Business Manager 1/1994, p. 9 ff; Motivation myth. Ways out of a dead end , Frankfurt / Main 2010 (19th edition), p. 124 ff.
  3. ^ Bettina Weber: "Annual talks should be abolished". In: April 21, 2019, accessed on April 21, 2019 (article behind the payment barrier).