Gartner Research

Executive Pulse: Leading Through Disruption

Published: 16 July 2020

ID: G00732610

Analyst(s): Corporate Strategy Research Team


Here’s a roll-up of pandemic-related executive sentiment and insights from thousands of functional leaders across the C-suite.

Fast word on tactics and concerns from thousands participating in our conference calls andpolls.

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Executives are experiencing much more disruption emanating from the COVID-19 crisis than are managers and individual contributors. In a global cross-industry survey, around four-in-ten executives report increased disruption to their peer networks, current projects and work schedules since January:

Figure 1. Perceptions of Increased Disruption During COVID-19

In the survey, more than 400 executives were also much more likely to say they’ve seen an increase in cross-team collaboration, creativity and innovation and the flexibility of processes and policies.

Figure 2. Changes in Working Practices Since COVID-19

The executives also report that:

  • They are spending more time learning new skills, processes and policies (41%).

  • Their team is taking on more responsibility (41%).

  • Their peers have become more competitive (40%).

Yet, in all the categories we’ve outlined here which deal with disruption and changes to work, over 50% of executives report minor changes, or none at all. Those reporting less change or disruption are in the single digits (between 5% and 7%).

CIOs and IT leaders running behind on their original 2020 IT budget plans are more likely to have made substantial or moderate IT operational changes (64%) as a result of COVID-19. By way of contrast, there’s far less turbulence for those still on track with their original 2020 IT budget plans, with “business as usual” being the most likely response in that group (36%).

Figure 3. Disrupted Organizations Have Made More Changes to Their IT Operations Than Others

CEOs from a global sample of 31 startups and emerging technology and service providers are planning or implementing significant operational changes:

  • Ninety percent are increasing or adding remote work, 55% of whom are planning to make those shifts permanent.

  • Eighty-four percent are adjusting sales models and practices toward inside or remote selling, with 45% planning to make the change last.

  • Eighty-one percent have added or increased flexible work hours, 42% are planning to implement those changes over the long-term.

Figure 4. Tech CEOs: Implementing Remote Work, Remote Selling, and Flexible Hours

Four in ten tech CEOs (39%) have created new products or offerings to meet customer needs, such as lower pricing or different bundles, while:

  • 32% have adjusted prices of their existing offerings

  • 32% have made no changes

  • 29% have added free trials

Figure 5. Tech CEOs Adjusting Products, Prices & Terms

Compiled by Daniel Ryntjes

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