Corona crisis and leadership: How you can now recognize a good boss

Julia Schorlemmer is an occupational psychologist and professor of health management.

Julia Schorlemmer is an occupational psychologist and professor of health management.

Tom Schulte

Short-term move to the mobile office, fear of the future, new tasks and work structures: the Corona crisis has put millions of employees in an unprecedented stressful situation. In dealing with them, one group of people is particularly important: the managers. If you deal with the new situation correctly, your employees will remain motivated and productive.

Of course, there is no universally valid formula for good leadership. But there are a few characteristics that you can use right now to tell whether you are dealing with a good boss – they are very much there. Julia Schorlemmer explained what these are in an interview with She is an occupational psychologist, professor of health management at the FOM University Center in Berlin and has been advising companies on digitization, work and health for years.

1. Your manager has defined clear communication rules

“It is extremely important that a manager clarifies with the entire team right from the start how what should be discussed and when,” says Julia Schorlemmer. At the moment, countless teams are using special job communication tools, such as Slack. When it comes to dealing with this, a supervisor must also lay down clear rules, says Schorlemmer. “Some questions should be clearly discussed with the team, like this: Does Slack mean asking someone a question straight in their face? So does he or she have to answer immediately? ” If individual employees do not want that, superiors should respect that. “It should also be okay for employees to say: ‘No, that’s too much for me. If you want direct feedback, give me a call. ‘”

2. He or she has set clear break and working times

If you are not used to working in the mobile office, you will probably find it difficult to separate between work and break phases. No colleague comes by to ring in the lunch break together; If you go into the kitchen for a moment to make yourself a coffee, the guilty conscience goes with it – after all, an urgent Slack message could arrive at this very moment. “Bosses should definitely find clear rules for this now,” says Julia Schorlemmer. “For example, you can tell your team to update their Slack status when they take a break.”

In addition, managers should make it clear that they know that their employees’ home office is not just an office, but also home. “Just because someone is now permanently at their ‘workplace’ does not mean that they can be reached there permanently,” says Julia Schorlemmer. A professional contact recently wrote to her asking if he could call her for a meeting on a Wednesday at 7 p.m. She said no and he replied. “But you don’t have any children, you have time.” This attitude, says Julia Schorlemmer, illustrates a very common misconception with regard to mobile work.

3. He or she has a positive view of you too

How do we get together through this situation? This is the question that managers should ask themselves and their team, says Julia Schorlemmer. “Managers should now try things out with their employees to find solutions to the crisis,” she says. And then? Should both – again together – think about it: What about our idea didn’t work out the way we wanted it to? And, more importantly, what worked well? “Looking at the positive together with the team is very important at the moment,” says the industrial psychologist. “This way, employees stay motivated and thus also productive.” For some executives this might be unusual. “But for them the crisis is an opportunity to practice that.”

4th He or she is not overly controlling

In many companies the coach is watching executives doing something that she calls “over control”. “It’s a no-go when bosses keep sending messages asking what their team members are doing,” says Julia Schorlemmer. It is humanly understandable that the Corona crisis is triggering a feeling of loss of control in many superiors. But if bosses take this out on their employees, it is harmful. Because: “This obvious mistrust quickly leads to mistrust on the employee side too.”

5. He or she shares your worries with you, but doesn’t get too emotional

Many bosses are unsettled by the Corona crisis. You ask yourself how your company will continue and how you should deal with your team. According to Julia Schorlemmer, it’s okay if you share your worries with your employees – but only to a certain extent. “It’s a strength when leaders show feelings too,” she says. “But you should stay matter-of-fact and only address your concerns if you are sure that they will not slip into an emotional outburst.” You also recognize a good manager by the fact that he or she asks you about your worries and takes them seriously.

6th He or she is a role model

“Mindfulness is a prerequisite for emotional intelligence. And that is one of the most important leadership qualities in today’s world, ”says Julia Schorlemmer. That means: only managers who treat themselves carefully can empathize with their employees. There are several things you can tell whether your manager is taking good care of himself. Good superiors, for example, also take breaks themselves to sort themselves; And they too should, at least roughly, adhere to the availability rules that apply in the team – and not sit at the laptop until late at night.

This article was published by in April 2020. It has now been reviewed and updated.


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