More than ever before, companies need leaders at all levels of their operations. A lot of us are in survival mode, and we need leaders who think and behave like owners — those who will work diligently with the best interests of the company as a whole in mind.
The impacts of Covid-19 have upset the status quo within most organizations. That status quo allowed standard operating procedures to guide a large number of the day-to-day things, which freed up the time and attention of senior leaders.
These days, however, many companies are in triage mode. They’re getting weekly, daily or even hourly updates that demand important decisions. With our daily work environment becoming more like a war room, leaders have far less time to do some of the more hands-on things they used to do.
But you know what they say: Many hands make light work. In this era of depleted time and mental energy for leaders and senior management, opportunities are plentiful in areas they never were before.
Regardless of whether your company is fully remote or has staggered office hours for staff, every workday requires at least some percentage of remote interaction. The intersection of digital skills needed to be successful while working remotely and the entrepreneurial traits companies need from emerging leaders right now creates a unique opportunity for the digitally savvy intrapreneurs out there.
As a longtime intrapreneur myself, I want to share some tips on how to seize this rare moment of opportunity effectively. This time and place presents a real chance to make big leaps career-wise that you wouldn’t normally be able to do. You can climb the ladder quickly by taking the following steps.
1. Get Scrappy
Instead of asking for a budget or spending money to make things happen for the company, place your focus on finding ways to save. A company that is bleeding resources will only bleed more under the pressure of growth. You have to make sure first that you steady the ship and minimize the risk. Then you can look toward growth.
Don’t try to look for any new opportunities until you’ve performed thorough risk minimization. That’s the most important element of company survival. So bootstrap, get scrappy and find ways to save wherever you can. You’ll add incalculable value this way.
2. Be Data-Driven
In a pre-pandemic world, gut instincts often counted for quite a bit. But in the tenuous environment we’re operating in now, decisions made with data are inherently less risky. Be the person who promotes making sound decisions based on data with the goal of minimizing risk.
In a remote work world, we’re forced to share our ideas a bit more in black and white because we lose the nuance of speaking about them in person. Basing decisions on data forces you to audit your own assumptions. This will either make you more confident in your recommendations or help you realize that you need to come at things with a different approach.
One of my favorite guiding principles has always been a quote attributed to Peter Drucker: “What gets measured, gets managed.” So measure, and then measure again.
3. Fill The Gaps
You have a job to do. Whatever your job description may have been six months ago, your focus now should be doing everything you can to fill the gaps and help your company wherever you’re needed.
If you’re truly an intrapreneur, you have the ability to solve problems creatively. So step up and uncover those problems, and then brainstorm solutions that can be impactful for the company.
This might be risk mitigation, cost savings or opportunity grabbing. Use your specific expertise to find problems that you’re uniquely positioned to solve.
If you look closely and creatively enough, you’re bound to find somewhere you can add extra value. It may be totally outside of your normal purview, but speak up when you find opportunities. If they’re important or valuable enough, the leaders of the company will notice and appreciate it.
In a remote-based world, over-communication can often prevent gaps in understanding or allow a team to stay feeling connected — not just in terms of just having the information, but also feeling like they’re included in the conversation and are being considered.
Our conversations are sparser these days, and the way we communicate is not as intimate or personal, so you have to make up for that by over-communicating. Generally, people can self-filter, so don’t worry about sending people too much information. I believe it’s better to over-communicate than under-communicate.
Share the data you’re finding, and open it up for collaboration. The end goal is company survival and, ultimately, company growth. The more people who understand your approach, the better.
Provide data and updates, and be consistent about it. Spread the infectious energy of problem-solving, and reiterate that everyone is in this together — that, as a team, you’re going to make it happen.
Plenty of growth and opportunity are available right now. There are a ton of jobs, connections and networking opportunities happening now that are not normally available to people within all levels of companies. We may be in an economic winter, but if you seize this moment, you’re likely to be so much further ahead when we move into the economic spring.
The article first appeared on forbes.com on July 20, 2020