Hasso-Plattner-Institut25 Jahre HPI
Hasso-Plattner-Institut25 Jahre HPI

Managing stakeholders – The psychology and neuroscience of successfully influencing others (Sommersemester 2024)

Lecturer: Dr. Franziska Frank

General Information

  • Weekly Hours: 2
  • Credits: 3
  • Graded: yes
  • Enrolment Deadline: 01.04.2024 - 15.04.2024
  • Examination time §9 (4) BAMA-O: 28.06.2024
  • Teaching Form: Block seminar
  • Enrolment Type: Compulsory Elective Module
  • Course Language: English
  • Maximum number of participants: 25

Programs, Module Groups & Modules

IT-Systems Engineering MA
Data Engineering MA
Digital Health MA
Cybersecurity MA
Software Systems Engineering MA
  • Professional Skills
    • HPI-PSK-ML Management and Leadership


This seminar focuses on influencing skills and humility to measurably increase the likelihood for getting stakeholders on board – without having to pull the outdated hierarchy card (real or borrowed).

The first two classroom days will focus on the needs of those that are to be influenced. We will look at two types of rules: those that follow from our social needs and those that stem from the automatisms of our brain. Understanding and practicing them gives participants a set of tools, which they can employ in any work or life situation. We will look at the science behind the rules, use case examples that demonstrate their effectiveness and allow time to apply the rules to own situations.

The third classroom day looks at the person of the influencer and how their humility has measurable positive effects on employees, the organisation and themselves. We will visit concepts such as psychological safety, empowerment, error management, collaboration, accountability – all of which are fostered by a humble leader. Research has defined humility in such a way that 97 percent of leaders and employees find this a desirable virtue and wish to learn the ego-free view from the balcony. Yet there are stumbling blocks on the path to humility. We will look at how these can be avoided and how the benefits of humility be reaped across any nationality, age and gender.

The course will aim at the following learning objectives:

  • Students familiarize themselves with both the psychology and neuroscience of influencing and learn to apply the concepts to different situations. The ability to navigate different stakeholder needs and achieve synergy with their own needs is fostered.
  • Students develop an understanding of the value of humility. They grasp how the concept has nothing to do with weakness, being overly modest or hiding one’s light under the bushel but that it is a chosen strength for every role that they have consciously taken on. They see where they stand and learn how to strengthen humility in themselves and others.
  • Students receive tools, a set of influencing cards for own use as well as numerous concepts that allow them to prosper as leaders while at the same time increasing their understanding of their own patterns of reactivity.

Core themes addressed are:

  • Rules of influencing that stem from basic human needs and how disregarding them explain many of the negative emotions that arise in every day interactions
  • Rules of influencing that stem from the automatisms of our brains and how these can be utilized to get people on board
  • Cognitive biases and elements of individual mindsets that hinder influencing success
  • Humility as a trainable virtue and vital for leadership in the age of self-managing organisations, agility and New Work
  • Measurable benefits of humility for employees, the organisation and the humble persons themselves
  • Avoiding stumbling blocks and making humility habitual


  • Participants should be comfortable communicating in English
  • Willingness and commitment for online pre-work, readings as well as tasks assigned after the modules.
  • Open mindset to explore own assumptions, mindsets and behaviours and be prepared to change them where necessary.


(Mandatory and recommended) post-session reading assignments will be communicated via the detailed course syllabus; the following are general reading recommendations.

  • Cialdini, R. (2006). Influence, New and Expanded: The Psychology of Persuasion
  • Fisher, R. (2006) Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate
  • Frank, F. (2023). The Power of Humility in Leadership, Influencing as a Role Model
  • Kahneman, D. (2012) Thinking, Fast and Slow


This course builds on rigorous academic research and makes the concepts come alive in your every-day life. It also allows you a very clear look at your own predilections and gives you the opportunity to grow both as thinker as well as an acting leader. Classroom sessions will employ numerous experiential formats, exercises, role plays, mini case studies, peer coaching and video elements. Short presentations to explain the research behind both influencing and humility will complement the interactive elements. Participants are expected not only to deepen their understanding of the tools discussed via engaging with mandatory (and recommended) literature, but also by testing out the tool set in their every life and presenting on it. Online pre-work in the shape of a questionnaire is mandatory. Slides and other resources will be worked at in class (and distributed electronically after class), while readings will be prepared individually. After the class room sessions further homework will be assigned on which students present on and write and assignment on.


  • Preparation of classroom sessions
    • Do pre-work on Qualtrics
  • Follow-up on classroom sessions / group presentation
    • Work on own situation
    • Interact with peer coach
    • Test rules of influencing and each of the four sub-elements of humility in real life
    • Presentation of each peer group (15 minutes)
    • Written documentation (minimum 3 pages)
  • Gewichtung der Leistungen / weighting
    • Group presentations (in person half a day): 50%
    • Individual written documentation: 50%


14.06./15.06.2024 9:30 to 17:30 h each
16.06.2024 09:30 to 17:00 h

Exam date (group presentations): 28.06.2024, 10:00 - 14:00 h
Individual written documentation: to be handed in by 23:59 h on 29.06.2024

Room: K-1.02

Contact: Franziska.Frank.e(at)esmt.org