The PeopleCap Playbook

Timely insights and actionable people strategies for leaders.

Putting the Puzzle Back Together After COVID-19

Companies are like puzzles with hundreds of pieces that fit together to create a picture. As a leader, you determine the ultimate picture puzzle, the share of each piece, and how it fits with the other pieces to complete the picture. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has taken most companies’ puzzles, torn them apart, and heaved the pieces into the air.

COVID-19 has taken the concept of disruption and expanded it to global dimensions, both figuratively and literally.

It’s easy to become consumed by the urgency and disruption – the first reaction to a crisis is often to grasp for pieces and turn in every direction. However, long-term vibrancy requires responding to the short-term without harming your company’s ability to rebound in the future; in other words, choices now have to be made within the context of future aspirations and possibilities.

For most leaders, now is the time to react and triage the immediate needs. But soon, attention needs to turn from managing the present to leading for the future. As explored in-depth in a recent HBR article, leading and managing people are two different roles. Leadership involves keeping your eye on the horizon in the midst of the storm – figuring out what the company picture should look like after this crisis, deciding what pieces you’re going to need to thrive in the future, and starting to cast the vision next.

Leadership after Crisis Management

As you look to the future it is time to take stock of what you need, where you want to go, and how you are going to lead others to get there. Begin by asking:

  • What will our customers need and want?
  • Is our mission still the same or has it shifted?
  • What is our strategy for achieving our mission?
  • Are we structured optimally to achieve our strategy?
  • Do we have the right functions represented at the strategic leadership table?
  • Is our executive team as cohesive as it needs to be to navigate this transition?
  • Do people managers have the skills they need to get results and engage the full potential of their teams?
  • Does the way we communicate internally need to shift?
  • Will our current culture support a pivot or does it need to evolve?

The answers to these questions will begin to illuminate what your future picture will be and the shape of the pieces you need to complete it.

For some companies the end picture will look the same but some strategic, structural, leadership, talent, or culture pieces will need to change. For others, the world will look completely different on the other side and incredible new opportunities to add value and have an impact will manifest.

As you look to the horizon, if there is any way we can help – as a thought partner, an experienced guide, a leadership coach, or to facilitate your strategic leadership sessions, please reach out. We pride ourselves on our partnerships – in both the calm times and the chaotic.