7 IT leadership lessons learned from COVID-19

IT leaders from HP, McAfee, Johnson Controls, and other enterprises reflect on what they learned after leading teams through a full year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, and soon after IT leaders rushed to mitigate the impact on their businesses, marshaling teams to work remotely.

CIOs boosted infrastructure capacity, shipped laptops to residences, and migrated applications small and large to software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications and cloud software. Eighty-two percent of CIOs surveyed say they have implemented new technologies and IT strategies during the pandemic, according to IDG’s 2021 State of the CIO survey.

Beyond implementing new technologies at scale, CIOs embraced the mental-health hurdles associated with managing remote teams whose work-life balance has been disrupted.

“Like most organizations, the pandemic took us by surprise,” says Paul Herring, global chief innovation officer of accounting firm RSM International. “We had to adjust quickly.”

Here IT leaders reflect on what they learned from a year of leading teams during the pandemic, as well as how work will likely change going forward.

1. The way we work changed overnight
2. Collaboration evolved — but left spontaneity a little lacking
3. Product expedition became a priority
4. Automation curbed uncertainty
5. IT leaders learned to lead with empathy
6. The customer meeting flight may now be canceled
7. It may no longer matter where employees reside

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