Complementary Management



Practical Examples

Subject Matter of the Complementary Management Model

The subject of the Complementary Management (or Complementary Leadership) Model is people management and leadership in organizations. The term Complementary Management is derived from the three elements of the core model, each of which has complementary components. For instance, the two complementary management functions – the support function and the disciplinary function – make up the totality of the management service. The range of complementary management tasks together generates the totality of the human performance conditions, which consist of enabling and carrying out work in order to achieve organizational goals. And finally, the complementary management actors together make up the totality of the key participants whose joint action shapes the management process. Please note: management and leadership are used synonymously here.

The theory model at a glance

Operationalization and research questions

Strategic and operative implementation

Objective and Benefit

Anyone seeking to understand and shape leadership and management in organizations needs a theoretical framework. The intention of Complementary Management Theory is to illustrate how people management and leadership are to be designed in order to best achieve their purpose of fulfilling the goals of the organizational unit by generating work performance and meeting other requirements. The theory is descriptive in the sense that it describes mechanisms of people management and leadership that are actually used and which function in practice. At the same time, it is normative in the sense that it clearly recommends that – with certain adaptations – leadership and management in organizations should precisely follow this pattern. By no means does the theoretical model need to depict and explain all of the conceivable aspects of leadership and management – only those that can be meaningfully generalized and standardized.

Even though the Complementary Management Model is also intended to be of scientific use and to serve as an orientation for managers, its main purpose is to provide a theoretical basis for corporate models (= principles, guidelines) of management and leadership. These are fundamental stipulations relating to leadership and management in a specific organization in the sense of a constitution of personnel work. They define why, by whom and how a specific organization or organizational unit (including its personnel) is to be managed and led. Organizations designing such corporate models may use some or all elements of Complementary Management and should progress with the project in five phases (see »here«).

Development Stage and Field Testing of the Model

In its current form, the Complementary Management Model is the result of a theoretical conceptualization process that has developed over many years. It started out as a broad outline and was subsequently further developed, with publications to date reflecting the respective stage of development (see Kaehler 2012, 2013, 2014a, b, 2017, 2020). Like most forms of systematic theorizing, it is based on practical observations, literature studies, and conceptual ideas that are condensed into a consistent web of theoretical assumptions. The individual mechanisms have been tested in practice and reflect functional people management and leadership as it is practiced in many organizations. The overall model has been applied in various companies and substantially refined on the basis of the experience gained. Next, empirical studies should be carried out which accompany its implementation in organizations and examine its effectiveness.

Komplementäre Führung: Stapel Papier als Symbol für den Entwicklungsstand

Complementary Management: Fundamental Literature

Bookcover Complementary Management
Comprehensive theoretical literature

“Complementary Management – A Practice-driven Model of People Management and Leadership in Organizations”; first English edition (translation of the third German edition) by Boris Kaehler; Springer 2022

Buchcover Führen als Beruf - Komplementäre Führung
Practical guide for managers

“Führen als Beruf – Andere erfolgreich machen”first German edition Tredition 2019 by Boris Kaehler