The post-COVID-19 business environment has forced leaders to think about new ways of motivating and guiding their teams. The world has changed in a matter of months, and this new world requires new competencies. What led to success just a few months ago has been likely been replaced. 

Accordingly, here are five competencies that leaders across industries must now embrace as part of their toolkit.

1. Leading a Remote Workforce

The days of co-location are over in many industries. The telework movement has gained a lot of momentum in the past several years, but the pandemic has pushed the movement to the edge. Workers now realize there are ways they can remain productive and engaged while being physically present less often. This is going to have repercussions, and leaders must be ready to embrace the idea of leading a workforce from afar for the foreseeable future. 

2. Understanding Data

People around the world have become glued to the daily numbers pouring in about new infections and spikes. This type of collective analysis and modeling would not have been available even a few years ago. But the data science and machine learning movements are alive and well. Organizations are becoming more and more dependent on instantaneous data to make decisions that matter. Accordingly, leaders must have an understanding of their data – at least enough to know when their data is telling the truth and when it may be lying.  

3. Technological Acumen

Leaders don’t have to be IT professionals, but they may have to think a little more like a CIO at times. What is the best way for the workforce to stay connected?  What is the best solution for knowledge management? These are not fringe questions – they are at the core of every leader’s job now. Leaders must understand not just what their company currently offers, but they must also be open to the future innovations coming down the pike that can help (e.g., artificial intelligence and robotic process automation) 

4. Business Intelligence

As discussed above, understanding data is important, but knowing how to present that understanding to others is equally important. Leaders must often lead by their gut, but it helps if their gut is informed by trace-able and demonstrable insights. Those insights can be guided by well-crafted and well-displayed performance measurement systems in an easy-to-digest dashboard. When organizations collect the right data and present it in a consumable way, it takes half of the guesswork out of decision-making. 

5. Preparedness

COVID-19 has led to a stark realization in many organizations – collectively, we were very unprepared for a disruption of this magnitude. Large-scale threats are not locked in the realm of science fiction anymore. The reality of the pandemic necessitates that leaders prepare for unexpected disruptions in the daily course of business and have actionable plans in place. 

Next Steps 

The post-pandemic world will be different, but it is not unmanageable. In fact, leaders who equip themselves properly will be well-prepared to translate the lessons of the current environment to the future. This is a perfect time for reflection, and the best leaders will use this as an opportunity for determining the skills they need to be effective now and the foreseeable future. 


For 35 years, the Center for Organizational Excellence has been a trusted partner in helping organizations and programs transform to more efficiently and effectively accomplish their mission. We help our clients achieve meaningful and measurable outcomes by designing and delivering consulting solutions in the areas of organizational effectiveness, human capital, information technology and data management. For more information, visit