Our study results

For many years, Management Angels has supported research projects on the topic of leadership. The most important cooperation partner is Hamburg’s “Helmut Schmidt University. University of the Federal Armed Forces. Together with the Institute for Work, Organisational and Business Psychology under the direction of Prof. Jörg Felfe, several studies have been conducted and published.

We are happy to provide you with the results of our studies for download free of charge.

Interim Leadership 3


The flexibilised executive floor – New Work in top management

The trend towards increasingly flexible forms of work continues at management level. Self-employment, project work, fixed-term working time models allow managers more self-determination, further development and fulfilment of meaning.

Despite high stress and uncertainty in everyday work, the sickness rate among managers in flexible employment is low. This is confirmed by the largest survey to date of self-employed interim managers in the DACH region by Hamburg’s Helmut Schmidt University (HSU) on the topic of health and flexibilisation.

Self-employed and short-term interim managers are a permanent fixture among executives in Germany. According to the industry association Arbeitskreis Interim Management Provider (AIMP), around 15,000 interim managers were constantly available on the market from 2011-2018.

849 interim managers have now been surveyed in a large and unprecedented survey by Helmut Schmidt University. The results of the self-assessment were scrutinised by 137 external assessments from close people (partners, colleagues, etc.). 39% of the interim managers surveyed have been self-employed for more than 10 years, 45% for 3-9 years. The focus is on senior management, especially at executive/board level (29%) or divisional management (24%).

The study also provides insights into the willingness of interim managers to take responsibility for the health of project participants. Although the pressure to act and succeed is usually high in the short-term and temporary assignment of an interim manager, especially in crisis situations, interim managers pay similar attention to the health of employees as permanent managers. “Good interim managers know that they can only win as a team. Without the commitment of all project participants, achieved through motivation and consideration for the concerns of the individual, the successful implementation of a key project is hopeless,” explains Holste. A health-oriented leadership style is what distinguishes innovative and sustainably successful organisations in the long term. 


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Interim Leadership 2


Personality and leadership success of interim managers

Personality profiles of interim managers differ significantly from those of permanent executives / 78% of all interim projects are successful / High recognition among employees at the end of the project.

Erdwig Holste presents the second self-employed study on the interim management market in Germany, Austria and Switzerland as part of his doctoral thesis at Hamburg’s Helmut Schmidt University. 248 completed interim projects were examined, with the interim managers (self-assessment) and the intermediary providers (third-party assessment) being surveyed. The results show that the interim mandates have a very high success rate. The surveyed index “Return on Interim Management” (RoIM) is also positive in 85.7% of all projects. This means that, as a rule, the personnel costs for an interim manager are profitable, in some cases by a multiple of the daily rates.

In their personality profiles, interim managers differ significantly from the population average. The majority of the interim managers studied are extremely resilient, psychologically very resistant, robust and hardly able to lose their composure even in heavy seas. The leadership motivation of independent interim managers is based on a high affinity to take on responsibility and aspire to leadership roles. They are very performance-oriented and have the ambition to consistently deliver top performance. This is at the expense of work-life balance; only 9.8% give priority to leisure and private life over work. These values distinguish interim managers from permanent executives and non-executives.

Erdwig Holste, head of the leadership study at Helmut Schmidt University, also sees interim managers as pioneers of a new leadership culture. “Flexible corporate structures and highly motivated, performance-oriented employees are not a contradiction. Good leadership can compensate for the negative effects of flexibilisation and pressure to innovate,” says Holste. “However, this requires particularly developed leadership skills, without which interim managers have no chance in change situations.”


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Interim Leadership 1


Entscheiderstudie zu Führung und Führungserfolg von Interim Managern 

Interim Manager können Veränderungsprojekte leichter umsetzen / Provider tragen zu besseren Projektergebnissen bei / Anhaltende Flexibilisierung auch im Top-Management 

Satisfaction with freelance interim managers and recruitment consultancies specialising in them is high. This is confirmed by the present decision-maker study by Hamburg’s Helmut Schmidt University (HSU) on the subject of leadership in flexible working structures.

For the study, in close cooperation with the AIMP (Arbeitskreis Interim Management Provider) in the DACH region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), more than 10,000 decision-makers in companies of all sizes and sectors were contacted and around 250 questionnaires were scientifically evaluated. 55% of the respondents use interim managers on a regular basis. Typical areas of use are project management (89%), change management (72%) and short-term bridging of project vacancies (65%).

A large proportion of interim managers are placed with companies via specialised personnel consultancies, so-called providers. Almost 1/3 even work exclusively via providers, who take on an important interface function between interim managers and companies.

Speed, market overview, selection options and quality assurance are the most important services provided by providers from the client’s point of view. As a result, 78% of all satisfied clients work with providers, while 75% of all non-satisfied clients search on their own.

The study also gives an outlook on tomorrow’s labour market. A clear majority of the decision-makers surveyed (90%) are convinced that the labour market will become more flexible and new forms of employment will increase by 2030. The interim management industry will not remain unaffected – 76% of the decision-makers expect further market growth and increasing demand for freelance managers.


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WIL GROUP International Survey


“There is a very serious risk that companies that move more slowly will be radically overtaken by their competitors.” –

Thorsten Becker

It is clear that companies that are slower to embrace digital transformation will be overshadowed by their competitors. WIL Group’s international survey, from 2019, focuses on the different roles and impact interim managers have in managing digital transformation.

A global survey of nearly 1,900 respondents from over 80 industries and 438 locations shows that Hong Kong, France, Germany, the UK and Singapore, among others, are leading the trend in implementing change. Digital transformation roles grew from 4% in 2018 to 28% globally, with key skills such as strategic leadership, project and programme management, HR specialists and finance being the most positive tools to successfully implement change.

It was found that for digital transformation to be successful, the most important condition is the purpose and the goal of the change is the biggest target. The most commonly identified barriers include: lack of expertise and competence, cultural barriers and insufficient senior management involvement/participation.

61% of interim managers believe that additional management is required to drive the necessary changes with a focus on strategic communication. Whereas 31% of managers want to set clear KPIs and 51% want to create the right culture for transformation.


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Your contact person

Christiane Fuhrmann
Head of Marketing I Business Development