The first responsibility of any leader is to articulate a vision that can be internalized by all – and to secure the resources and support to attain it. It’s never a “one and done” job; it requires creativity to hit the same directional notes in fresh, motivating ways. Without genuine leadership, organizations languish.
The past six months have amounted to a leadership test on a mammoth scale. In March, when the pandemic turned the world upside down, the first task was to enable operations to continue as routinely as possible while ensuring the health and safety of employees. Work-from-home mandates and quick deployment of remote collaboration technologies enabled most IT leaders to perform that small miracle with few speedbumps.
But the rough ride is far from over. An historic economic downturn means businesses have had to reassess their challenges and opportunities more than once. IT leaders need to be fully engaged in that prioritization. The biggest IT leadership test of all may be finding the courage to advise killing unnecessary pet projects favored by C-level execs, while protecting more mundane technology efforts, particularly transformational ones, that will reduce costs in the long run.
In fact, in a July 2020 Pandemic Business Impact Survey conducted by IDG Research on behalf of CIO, over half of respondents thought the effects of the pandemic would actually accelerate digital initiatives. That same survey also suggests we’ve learned from our new normal: A full 70 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that “The work-from-home shift has created a more positive view of remote workplace policies and will likely impact how we plan for office space, tech staffing, and overall staffing in the future.”
Every organization seeks to emerge stronger than ever when our travails end – leaner, perhaps, but wiser and ready to ride the recovery. Meanwhile, IT leaders need to overcommunicate with their far-flung staff to explain clearly the adjustments big and small that must be made along the way. It’s a challenging time that demands IT leaders, not always known for their soft skills, do their best to sustain meaningful, supportive connections with their employees.
In a new collection of articles, CIO, Computerworld, CSO, InfoWorld, and Network World offer leadership recommendations derived from real-world experiences, from efforts to establish collaboration as the default working style to initiatives that build an agile culture from the bottom up. None of us can know what’s next. But we live in an unusual time when circumstances present opportunities to learn many new lessons at once.