How General Managers Lead Through Disruption

July 24, 2020

Contributor: Beth Wasko

Leading high-tech general managers (GMs) have to pivot forward when it comes to their growth plans in 2020 due to the global health crisis.

Prior to COVID-19, the top priority of 51% of general managers (GMs) for 2020 was to grow revenue from existing products and services, and 35% agreed their second priority was to grow revenue from new products and services.

But leading high-tech GMs now must pivot. Although GMs were previously concerned with making their numbers, today their top question is, “How do we successfully navigate the crisis?”

In late 2019, Gartner conducted a survey of more than 200 technology GMs regarding their priorities, effectiveness and future plan, but the unexpected global pandemic has pushed all GMs to think differently. 

Read more: Technology GMs: Adjust Your Product Strategies and Vision for COVID-19

According to Gartner, global IT spending is expected to fall 7.2% in 2020 and not recover globally until 2022 or later. For high-tech executives, the key to success will be how they bounce forward (not back). The level of social, economic, business and technology change is transforming the GM’s role and responsibilities. 

As the crisis changes customer and market expectations, priorities, values and needs, it’s never been more important for GMs to rethink plans and approaches, while they take on new responsibilities that include gaining deeper customer and market intelligence, incorporating new market and technology developments, and responding to the current changes.

Read more: Analysts Answer: How Will Coronavirus Impact Technology Investment Across Verticals?

These added responsibilities have made the GM role more complex, making its effectiveness, particularly through a crisis, matter more than ever because it acts as a reflection of the company; the more effective the GM, the more ambitious and diverse the company’s growth plans. 

“An effective general manager will build teams and organizational connections to gain the alignment, authority and funding for success,” says Mark McDonald, VP Analyst, Gartner.  

During a “disruptive crisis,” general managers need to recognize broad realities, embrace current challenges and lead for the future. 

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Recommended resources for Gartner clients*:

Some Gartner clients can learn more in the full research General Manager Insights: The 2020 GM Survey by Mark McDonald.

*Note that some documents may not be available to all Gartner clients.