Determining fact from fiction is harder than ever in a socially connected and digital world. Add to that a common global experience - like a pandemic - and we certainly have a lot to talk about!

Here in the executive recruitment and leadership business, we have heard plenty of fiction about how this year has impacted executive recruiting and organizational design. That’s why Boyden Executive Search is kicking off a new myth-busting series.

Over the coming weeks, we will be calling out the assumptions we are hearing and leverage our data, insights and experiences to validate or refute the facts. Each week, we will dive a little deeper into the topics below. Along the way, we welcome your questions, comments and any new topics you would like us to explore.  Let’s begin:

Myth: We should stay the course with our executive team lineup and ride out the pandemic.

FactThe world has changed. You can't stay the same. It is imperative organizations have an eye to how digital transformation, increased regulation, more consolidation and other economic trends inspired by the pandemic may shape business needs.  Functions you never saw as a priority, from government relations to regulatory affairs and digital marketing, may become central to business survival post-pandemic.

For some progressive companies, particularly those that had modernized their information technology and remote work policies, the transition to working-from-home during the pandemic was more a molehill than a mountain. What all organizations are learning as the pandemic persists, however, is that success in the new normal isn’t just about slick video conferencing capabilities and an efficient filing nomenclature. This is a seismic shift that requires a new mindset - and, in many cases, a new skill set - across all levels of the organization.  

Now is the time for senior leadership to build the team needed to ride out the storm of COVID-19 and beyond. Here’s where to begin

The culture of the senior leadership team: The pandemic has catapulted us into a period of accelerated change.  Not just in how we work. We see it in the downstream economic impact of lockdowns and in how governments around the world are planning for a financial recovery. An organization’s success is now much more dependent on the strategic foresight, agility and resiliency of its leadership. In the new normal where nothing is normal, leadership teams must be able to scan the market, see the opportunities that can transform the business, pivot effectively and drive those same cultural values throughout their team and the organization. 

Human Resources at the executive table: There is no question that COVID-19 has had a profound impact on workforces. With basic income virtually guaranteed through government subsidies, an amplification of long-term health, safety and workplace implications, and an imperative for revised organizational design, the debate around whether HR should be at the executive table may have finally settled itself. Strategic HR counsel is an imperative in this new world

Risk - from oversight to religion: Risk managers at organizations all over the world are  likely saying “I told you so,” and we deserve it. Not only have they been raising the pandemic possibility for years but, in sophisticated organizations, they have been working to transition risk from a function to a cultural norm. While many risk titles relate to specific areas of risk - financial, food safety, business continuity - all roles at all levels should now address risk, the accountabilities should consolidate at the senior management team, and the board should take a more hands-on role in the risk registry. 

A voice into government and regulators: With vast government support programs that have looming implications for business, impending global policies that could impact supply chain and product-category sovereignty, and anticipated growth in regulation around safety and security, there is a good chance your organization needs to amp up its lobbying and advocacy efforts. An understanding of and a voice into government and regulators has become a vital function for many Canadian organizations coping with much more engagement from the state.

Unsung heroes of Communications unearthed: Communicators spend their entire careers behind-the-scenes making everyone else around them look good. Take a step back and consider how your organization's transition to work-from-home went. Are your employees still collaborating? Is morale in decent shape? Do you still have a platform to connect with your employee base? The role Communicators play in employee morale, culture and reputation management is having its day in the sun and, with that light finally switched on, this function will only grow in value and prominence as organizations look to these strategic advisors for counsel and advice. 


COVID-19 has fundamentally transformed large organizations and has created demands for new and sometimes unanticipated skillsets. Reach out to Boyden to discuss further how your organizational structure may be impacted and the profile of the talent to consider as a result.

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