Emmanuelle Abensur
April 10, 2024
min read
Management & Governance

How the Liberated Company Unleashes Your Employees’ Potential

Employees from a liberated company are celebrating their freedom and autonomy at work

Have you ever wondered if there's a better way to unleash the full potential of your employees, beyond the confines of hierarchical structures? Well, that’s exactly what the liberated company is about! Contrary to traditional companies, liberated companies empower their employees through trust, autonomy, and self-management. This in turn helps improve innovation, agility and employee engagement.

Pioneer companies such as Gore, FAVI, Harley Davidson and Semco have implemented this model before it was actually coined. However, it mostly got popular in the 2010s when Isaac Getz introduced the concept in his book "Freedom."

In this article, we'll explore what a liberated company truly is, the multitude of benefits it brings, and the challenges it poses. More importantly, we'll guide you on how to navigate these waters and advocate for a more engaged workplace.

What Is a Liberated Company? 


Before diving into the benefits of the liberated company, let’s first clarify what exactly we’re talking about. Here’s a definition to help you understand it better:

A liberated company is a company that gives its employees the freedom and the capacity to unleash their full potential. Liberating a company thus means enabling people to be creative, to innovate, to take initiatives and to leverage collective intelligence.  


A liberated company is usually characterized by:

  • A flat organizational structure, i.e. a structure with few or no levels of middle management, where decision-making is decentralized.
  • Self-managed teams: Employees have the autonomy to organize their work, set their own goals, and make decisions relevant to their role.
  • Roles over job titles: Instead of rigid job titles, employees assume roles that can evolve based on the team's needs and personal growth aspirations.
  • Trust and transparency: A foundational trust in employees' abilities and intentions, coupled with transparent access to information, allows everyone to contribute and make decisions autonomously.
  • Psychological safety: Employees feel secure to express ideas, take risks, and voice concerns without fear of reprisal.

An Approach That Challenges Traditional Models

This approach contrasts sharply with the traditional corporate model, which relies heavily on hierarchy, fixed roles, and centralized decision-making. Liberated companies challenge this by demonstrating that when employees are trusted and given freedom, they not only meet but often exceed expectations

Maybe you’re wondering: is it that bad to have disengaged employees? After all, only 23% of global employees are engaged at work, which means most companies have disengaged employees. Isaac Getz, pioneer of the liberated company, explains in this TEDx video why it’s so important to engage your employees, and how to go about it.

How Does It Unleash Your Employees’ Potential?

The transition to a liberated company isn't just about restructuring your organization. It's about fundamentally changing how employees engage with their work and with each other. This transformative approach can bring many benefits, such as:

  • Increased innovation and creativity: Free from the constraints of traditional hierarchies, employees can explore new ideas and approaches, driving innovation.
  • Higher employee engagement: Employees that can set their own goals and take initiatives to achieve them are more engaged at work. This is especially important because companies with highly engaged workforces experience 81% less absenteeism, 18% more productivity, and up to 43% less turnover!
  • Greater performance: As explained above, engaged and empowered employees are more productive. They thus contribute to the overall performance and profitability of the company.
  • Faster decision-making: As employees are able to make decisions relevant to their role, they can respond more quickly to challenges and opportunities.
  • Increased ownership: When employees are given trust, they develop a stronger sense of ownership over their work and become accountable for the outcomes of their decisions.
  • Sense of purpose: Team members know that their work has a direct impact on the organization’s success, which makes them committed to the company’s purpose.
  • Personal development: Employees are motivated to learn and grow, which helps them evolve their skills sets and capabilities. 
  • Enhanced talent retention: Employees feel like their work is more valued, which helps develop a deeper loyalty to the organization. 
  • Flexibility: Autonomy over work schedules allows employees to manage their professional and personal lives more effectively, leading to better well-being.

What Are the Challenges That Come with Liberating Your Company?

While the liberated company model offers numerous benefits, it’s also not without its challenges. Here’s a closer look at some of the hurdles organizations may face on their journey towards liberation.

Shifting from a Hierarchical to a Flat Structure

For many organizations, the shift from a traditional hierarchical structure to a flat, more open one can be daunting. Hierarchies are deeply ingrained in the corporate world, and moving away from them requires a significant cultural and operational shift. Employees and managers alike must adapt to new ways of working, which can lead to uncertainty and resistance.

Changing Leadership Mindset

Leaders must embrace a mindset shift from controlling to empowering. This involves trusting employees to make decisions and manage their work, which can be challenging for those accustomed to micromanagement or a command-and-control style of leadership. The success of this transition largely depends on leaders' willingness to let go of control and support their teams.

Involving all Parties in the Transition

For a liberated company model to be successfully implemented, all employees must be on board with the change. This requires clear communication about why you’re making this change, how the transition will occur, and how it’s going to benefit all parties. 

Developing Accountability

Developing accountability can sometimes be a challenge, as employees who are accustomed to receiving direct orders may initially struggle with making their own decisions. Cultivating a culture where accountability is seen as empowering rather than burdensome is crucial.

Limiting Stress 

While autonomy and self-management can lead to greater job satisfaction, they can also increase stress levels if not managed properly. Employees who take on more responsibility may feel overwhelmed, especially if they lack the support they need to succeed. Ensuring that they have access to resources and support is essential to prevent burnout.

Implementing a liberated company model can sometimes feel stressful for employees

Avoiding Anarchy

Without some form of structure or agreement on values and goals, the risk of anarchy—where everyone does as they please without regard for the organization’s objectives—becomes real. Establishing a clear set of principles and guidelines is thus key to maintaining order and direction.

Should You Liberate Your Company?

Before liberating your company, you should know that this approach isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, and that its success depends on various factors. Here are a few questions that can help you determine if it’s the right move to do:

  • Do our organizational values align with the principles of a liberated company? (aka trust, autonomy and transparency)
  • Are your leaders ready to embrace a new style of leadership? And are they willing to adopt a supportive role rather than one of control?
  • How prepared are your employees to take on greater autonomy and responsibility? Do they have the skills and mindset to embrace self-management?
  • Can you establish and maintain a culture of accountability without reverting to micromanagement?
  • Are you resilient enough to navigate the challenges of this transition?

How Can You Become a Liberated Company?

Now that you’ve decided to liberate your company, what should you do exactly? Here are some best practices to help you get started.

Lay the Foundation with Education and Communication

Begin by educating your leaders and employees about the liberated company. Host workshops, seminars, and discussions to explore the benefits and challenges of this model. Clear and open communication is vital to ensure everyone understands the vision and is aligned with the change process.

an employee following a training program on the liberated company

Foster a Culture of Trust, Empowerment and Equality

Cultivate an environment where trust and empowerment are the norm, and where ideas can come from anywhere within the organization. Ensure that every team member feels valued and respected, regardless of their position. Encourage leaders to adopt a coaching mindset and to support their teams instead of just directing them. 

Redefine Roles and Responsibilities

Move away from traditional job titles to roles that reflect the work being done and the needs of the organization. Use self-management tools like Holaspirit to define these roles and responsibilities, and ensure transparency across the organization. This clarity will help employees become more autonomous at work.

Implement Systems for Accountability 

Accountability is a cornerstone of the liberated company model. To develop this accountability, you should set clear expectations, goals, and metrics that everyone can access and understand. This will help employees understand how their work contributes to the organization’s objectives, and thus encourage them to take ownership of their work.

Encourage Autonomy and Initiative

Empower employees to take initiative and make decisions within their roles. This could involve setting their work schedules, launching their own projects, and finding new ways to achieve their objectives. Also make sure that leadership supports these endeavors and helps teams achieve their goals.

Provide Room for Growth

Ensure employees have the resources, training, and support they need to succeed in this new environment and take on new challenges. This includes access to information, tools, and ongoing learning opportunities. Design roles and responsibilities to be flexible, to allow employees to evolve in their careers as they acquire new skills and interests.

Continuously Monitor and Adjust

Adopting a liberated company model is an ongoing process that requires regular reflection and adaptation. Collect feedback from employees at all levels to understand what’s working and what needs improvement. Be prepared to make adjustments to roles, processes, and policies as you learn and evolve.

Leverage Tools like Holaspirit

Holaspirit can be an invaluable tool in your transition. Its features are designed to support the principles of a liberated company, including:

  • Clarity in roles and responsibilities: Holaspirit’s organizational chart allows you to clearly define and visualize roles. This makes it easy for everyone to understand their responsibilities and those of their colleagues.
Mapping roles on Holaspirit’s organizational chart
  • Efficient decision-making: The platform supports distributed decision-making processes, based either on consent or consensus. Teams can thus make informed decisions quickly and autonomously, while ensuring everyone is aware of what’s going on.
Setting up decision settings in Holaspirit’s administration
  • Documentation of processes: Our publication feature helps you document your organization’s processes and policies, and make sure all team members can easily access it. 
Documenting customer services processes
  • Simplified governance evolutions: Anyone in the organization can suggest making changes in a role, a circle, a process or a policy. Relevant people can validate the proposal, and if no one disagrees then it can be implemented.
Submitting a proposal to add a new role to the organization
  • Tracking of OKRs (Objectives and Key Results): This feature is great for organizations that want to align individual, team and organizational goals. It allows everyone to track their achievements in real time, and see whether their initiatives are working or not.
Visualizing how team OKRs contribute to the company’s OKRs
  • Transparent collaboration: All teams can organize their tasks and projects using kanban boards, and make them visible to the rest of the organization if they wish to.
Tracking the advancement of employee engagement projects 

To conclude

The journey towards becoming a liberated company is both challenging and rewarding. On the one hand, it can have a transformative impact on your organization's culture, employee engagement, and overall performance. But on the other hand, it also requires a shift in culture and mindset, an involvement of all parties, as well as a real willingness to change (from both leaders and employees).

Implementing the best practices outlined above is a great way to set the foundation. However, keep in mind that becoming a liberated company is a continuous process. Self-management tools like Holaspirit can support the implementation of a liberated company framework by providing clear structures for roles, facilitating decision-making processes, and ensuring transparency across all levels of the organization. 

Contact our team to get started!

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