We have arrived at a situation where proven methods and well-known standards no longer work. Everything has changed in a short time. Besides the general threat and its influence on our private life, for many people the professional environment has changed. We no longer work in the office, we keep our distance and our everyday life is out of joint. In this context we trust and rely primarily on ourselves. How do we as managers in companies move from



Personality First

Normally we have our unconscious and well functioning routine in the judgement of people when we observe them in a situation. This no longer works. Because many teams no longer meet in person in the office or company. They collaborate "remotely", separated from each other via digital tools. Leaders no longer see their employees face to face. They can no longer transmit the familiar images from the "normal working world" in their current situation. However, they do not have other pictures in front of their mental eye, while they can no longer interpret the actions of their employees according to the old parameters. This is especially true for companies where home office or mobile work approaches have not been lived up to now. The managers are groping in the dark. Employees' reactions are misunderstood. There is uncertainty.

Why is that and what can we do?

Basically, people act differently in crisis mode, which is not surprising at first. They no longer rely on what others tell them. They listen more to their own intrinsic needs. They act less externally controlled, but rely on their gut feeling and listen to themselves. They follow their inner guidelines and their own drive. At the same time they observe their environment very closely and question much more strongly what is going on around them. Their inner filter for credibility is activated and immediately takes action. They ask themselves who really helps them, who is with them and who protects them. They think about who they can trust, who appreciates them and who is serious about them. People are more vulnerable in this situation because they operate on a highly emotional level, rely on their instincts and fall back on their intrinsic goals.

At this point we are all at first ALONE with ourselves. Our individual values come to the fore and determine what we feel and feel. This is a unique and often new situation in which we experiment. If managers do not pick up their employees directly in this phase, they themselves lose credibility. The employee, on the other hand, loses his motivation and willingness to perform. He switches to pull through and no longer hears what superiors and leaders in the company are saying. This leads to immense damage for the employee himself, for the whole team, the family and the organisation.

It is crucial for Leaders to understand and accept this inner level. Only when they accept the fact that every employee experiences and processes this situation differently are they able to lead others again. For human resources managers, this necessarily includes the recognition that many employees experience the situation differently than the own ego of the manager and colleagues. Only then can leaders move from the I to the WE.


Character First

We receive support in this task from Prof. Dr. Steven Reiss. As a result of his many years of psychological and psychiatric research, leaders have access to an individual map to assess the emotional situation of employees and teams. In his years of intensive work with people, Reiss has identified 16 universal life motives of personality. They show the inner motivation of a person, what really moves and drives him. Dr. Reiss' method is one of the leading tools to assess motives, values and needs of people and employees.

Now in remote mode, Reiss' methods can be used to identify what is going on in each employee individually in the current state of emergency. Not only the universal motives are important, but also the intensity with which they are expressed in each individual. The stronger the intensity of a motive, the stronger the emotions associated with it. The stronger the intensity of a motive is, the greater the desire to reach the goal that satisfies this intrinsic motivation. Depending on their inherent and unchangeable motives for life, people either seek to avoid situations or they strive to do so. This varies depending on what drives and moves us. And this is exactly what applies in the crisis, in the current home office environment.

Reiss' model helps managers to understand how employees react to the crisis and function in remote mode. For some, the current situation is a signal for pain and fear. He or she tries to evade it and avoid it. For others, it may not be a signal for joy, but they allow change, they seek the opportunities that the current situation may offer for them and the company. They accept the challenge and face it. Other people, on the other hand, fear change and love routine. If they are torn out of their routine, they need support. Communication for these people must therefore be different from that of employees who love change and see it as a problem that needs to be solved and from which something can be gained. They really flourish and grow with the challenge.

Effective leadership in a crisis must move to this emotional level and feel it. Only then can a leader give rational answers that are received by employees and perceived as credible. If teams are not picked up on the emotional level, they are not prepared to receive messages on the rational level. At this point, competent leaders recognize that in exceptional situations a message in the sense of ONE SIZE FITS ALL is definitely a thing of the past. Effective communication deals with how employees deal differently with the crisis context and the remote mode. People are unique individuals who need their ecological niche to flourish. To accept, promote and develop this niche is lived leadership:


In order to master the tasks that companies and managers now have to face, leadership personalities are needed. The management level can show attitude with productive, not counterproductive actions, and convince and inspire the employees. The 16 life motives of Reiss support the selection of management personnel in the company. Managers whose intrinsic motivation fits their leadership role bring the best prerequisites to master this exceptional situation with confidence. They find creative solutio