3 Leadership Lessons The COVID-19 Pandemic Taught Decision-Makers
The COVID-19 health crisis prompted government officials and business decision-makers alike to alter live-work culture drastically.
Day-to-day operations no longer saw employees walking through the door, engaging in chit-chat, or bouncing ideas off one another about problem-solving. Millions of team members found themselves working from home, and industry leaders also had to adapt.
As Stay at Home mandates give way and regions began to reopen their economies, the lessons industry leaders learned during the upheaval define the future success or failure of their organization.
If you own or operate a business and are troubled by the still uncertain future, adopting these leadership lessons could prove invaluable.
Rethink Your IT Infrastructure Priorities
During the early days of the pandemic, industry leaders drew on the knowledge of experts to create a proactive strategy to navigate workplace displacement.
Many successful enterprises leveraged their remote IT infrastructure or expanded their footprint to prioritize work-from-home productivity.
Early practitioners of remote completion platforms such as Microsoft Teams felt less economic sting than purely brick-and-mortar companies. But, for the most part, organizations have been negatively impacted by the global slowdown. A somewhat knee-jerk reaction has upwards of 62 percent of CFOs planning Draconian budget cuts.
But thought leaders see remote IT infrastructure as a prudent investment that should not be lumped with other rollbacks.
“Across-the-board cuts to every category of (selling, general and administrative) spend often turn out to be short-sighted,” Gartner finance practice vice president Dennis Gannon reportedly said.
“For example, we see evidence that the coronavirus has prompted a permanent shift to more homeworking. This transition to large scale remote working puts additional strain on the IT department. Therefore, forcing the IT infrastructure group to bear the same cost reductions as another functional area could expose your organization to new risks or negatively affect business continuity.”
Improve Work-From-Home Cybersecurity Protections
As COVID-19 surged from an outbreak to a pandemic, hackers did not see a frightening landscape. Instead, cybercriminals saw a global opportunity to manipulate fears and anxiety for profit.
Digital thieves targeted newly minted remote workers who often lacked the cybersecurity training to defend against sometimes sophisticated schemes. Too many organizations learned the hard way during the height of the pandemic.
In a recent CISO Magazine article penned by CSO Zohar Rozenberg called, “Lessons That Can Be Learned from Reviewing How We Manage Cybersecurity and Applying it to an Anti-Coronavirus Campaign,” he urges heightened cybersecurity protections going forward.
“If countries wish to learn lessons from the world of cyber protection to deal with the Coronavirus threat, then they must bear in mind that building defenses must consist of several layers,” Rozenberg reportedly said. “No one method can avoid the threat.”
If you are planning to maintain work-from-home infrastructure, like the vast majority of CFOs, these are protections to consider.
- Two-Factor Authentication
- Virtual Private Networks
- Enterprise-Level Firewalls & Antivirus Applications
- Encrypted Data Transmissions
- Enhanced Endpoint Protections
- Cybersecurity Awareness & Training
These and other safeguards can be implemented by enlisting the services of a third-party cybersecurity specialist. By reaching out now and creating a protection plan based on mishaps that occurred, you can avoid becoming the low-hanging fruit for hackers to harvest.
Include Scenario Planning Into Strategic Thinking
There were few bright spots in terms of pandemic planning during the early days of the spread. But a Texas supermarket chain had long ago adopted scenario planning.
Thought leaders at the San Antonio-based H-E-B diligently prepared for upheaval after considering the 2005 H5N1threat that also originated in China. They revised that plan in 2009 to manage the H1N1 swine flu.
“So, when did we start looking at the coronavirus? Probably the second week in January, when it started popping up in China as an issue. “We’ve got interests in the global sourcing world, and we started getting reports on how it was impacting things in China, so we started watching it closely at that point.”
H-E-B director of emergency preparedness Justen Noakes reportedly said, “We decided to take a harder look at how to implement the plan we developed in 2009 into a tabletop exercise. On February 2, we dusted it off and compared the plan we had versus what we saw in China.”
Thought leaders in the IT community are also urging decision-makers to consider adding scenario planning to disaster and recovery strategies.
There’s a critical difference between restarting an operation after a power outage or hack and protracted economic disruption. The leadership lessons H-E-B and others learned from upheaval can serve your organization well going forward.