Working "Unbossed": Self-Leadership and Empowering Leadership Effects on Employee Attitudes

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Organization Development & Change (D.O.D.C.)


Organization Development

First Advisor

Margaret Brooks (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Deborah O'Neil (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

David Jamieson (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Timothy Brackenbury (Other)


Unbossed is a relatively new concept that was introduced in 2019 to employees in a multi-national pharmaceutical company; the term originated with the company CEO and is characterized by reducing levels of bureaucracy in the organization with employees being held accountable to the organization, while also having autonomy in their work. This dissertation examines constructs in the scholarly literature that overlap with what the company has labeled Unbossed, to evaluate whether these practices are related to positive outcomes in the organization. 93 employees from this multi-national pharmaceutical company were surveyed to determine if there is relationship between self-leadership and empowering leadership on job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Findings indicated that self-leadership and empowering leadership were both positively related to job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Given the recent introduction of the unbossed concept at the organizational level, this research also offers exploratory findings about employee understandings of Unbossed. Qualitative responses suggest that being empowered, having autonomy, less management oversight, and having accountability were primary themes in employee understandings of Unbossed. The findings are a step toward connecting elements of Unbossed to positive workplace outcomes, and toward understanding how employees understand and experience an Unbossed culture.