Eric Jacobson

Archive for the ‘General Leadership Skills’ Category

How To Get To Know Your Direct Reports

In Eric Jacobson On Leadership, General Leadership Skills on May 6, 2016 at 11:35 am

To help you bring out the best in your team, you need to get close and understand their skills, abilities, and motivations. So, the authors of the book, Your First Leadership Job, recommend you hold getting-to-know-you conversations with each of your direct reports.

Ask these open-ended questions. Let each team member know the purpose of the meeting in advance. And, don’t cheat by adding in work-specific questions.

  1. What do you enjoy doing most as part of your work? Why?
  2. What do you  miss most about the jobs you’ve had in the past? Why?
  3. What things about your current job do you enjoy the least? Why?
  4. How do you cope with or relieve stress?
  5. To help you do your job, what could I change about: Your work environment? The content of your work? How you get your work done?
  6. What form of recognition do you prefer or not prefer?

How To Be An Accountable Leader

In Eric Jacobson On Leadership, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Books on April 23, 2016 at 3:32 pm

“Truly accountable leadership is the only way to build an organization that can survive and thrive in our increasingly complicated world,” says Vince Molinaro, author of his revised and updated bestseller, The Leadership Contract.

More specifically, Molinaro believes that a new set of leadership expectations is redefining how each of us will need to lead in the future. He explains that as a leader you will need to take accountability to:

  • Align and engage
  • Take an enterprise-wide perspective
  • Build relationships
  • Master uncertainty
  • Develop other leaders
  • Model the values

And, to be a truly accountable leader, Molinaro says that you must serve the five core obligations of leadership:

  • Yourself
  • Your customers
  • Your organization
  • Your employees
  • Your communities

One of my favorite parts of the book are the Gut Checks for Leaders at the end of each chapter. The Gut Checks list critical questions to ask yourself, such as:

  • Do you lead every day with a sense of clarity regarding your obligations?
  • What are the major complexities and pressures of your role?
  • What is the hard work of leadership that you must tackle in your role? What hard work are you avoiding? Why are you avoiding it?
  • How will having tough conversations make you a more accountable leader?

Molinaro, PhD, is an author, speaker, and, leadership advisor to senior executives, heads of human resources, and boards. He is the Global Managing Director of Strategic Solutions with Lee Hecht Harrison.

Thanks to the book publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.

Your Critical First 100 Days As A New Leader

In Eric Jacobson Leadership, Eric Jacobson On Leadership, General Leadership Skills on March 22, 2015 at 7:51 am

There are seven major onboarding land mines that you are likely to come across as a new leader and there are specific points in the first 100 days where you are most likely to encounter them, explain authors:

  • George Brant

  • Jayme A. Check

  • Jorge Pedraza

…in their new third edition of, The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan.

Ill-prepared, without a plan, and lacking proper onboarding, the land mines will get you. And, if you miss one or more of the critical tasks that must be accomplished in your first 100 days, you’ll likely fail.

The book is packed with:

  • Examples and case studies

  • Action plans

  • Tools, techniques and tricks of the trade

The authors also explain why you need to start even before your official first day on the job. For example:

  • Cultural engagement is extremely important in a successful transition; and it is essential that you know what your cultural engagement plan will be before walking in the door for Day One.

  • A new leader’s role begins as soon as you are an acknowledged candidate for the job. Everything you do and say and don’t do and don’t say will send powerful signals, starting well before you even walk in the door on Day One.

By Day 30 share with your team:

  • Mission — Why here, why exist, what business are we in?

  • Vision — Future picture – what we want to become; where we are going.

  • Values — Believes and moral principles that guide attitudes, decisions, and actions.

  • Objectives — Broadly defined, qualitative performance requirements.

  • Goals — The quantitative measures of the objectives that define success.

  • Strategies — Broad choices around how the team will achieve its objectives.

  • Plans — The most important projects and initiatives that will bring each strategy to fruition.

By Day 60:

  • Over invest in early wins to build team confidence.

This must-read book for anyone in a new leadership role also includes:

  • A new approach called BRAVE on how to engage hearts and minds in the intended culture.

  • 100-Hour Action Plan for crisis situations.

Leadership Quotes From The Book, Just Listen

In Eric Jacobson On Leadership, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Books, Leadership Quotes on March 18, 2015 at 5:32 am

Leadership Quotes

Here are some terrific quotes from Mark Goulston’s book, Just Listen:

  • Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them. — Paul Hawken
  • Life is mostly a matter of perception and more often misperception. — Dave Logan
  • Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from their next saying, “Make me feel important.” — Mary Kay Ash
  • Do the unexpected. The expected is boring.  The expected is tuned out. — Steve Strauss
  • Humility is the surest sign of strength. — Thomas Merton
  • Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. — Bill Gates
  • The secret of getting ahead is getting started. — Agatha Chrisie
  • Don’t find fault.  Find a remedy. — Henry Ford

Four Words To Never Say To A Customer

In Eric Jacobson On Leadership, General Leadership Skills on February 4, 2015 at 7:49 pm

Author Harvey MacKay wrote the following spot-on advice in his column in the Kansas City Business Journal a few years ago.  He wisely points out that all employees at every level should never use these four words in front of a client/customer for both obvious and perhaps not so obvious reasons:

  • Can’t — As in, “We can’t do that.”  “We can’t meet that deadline.”  Unless you honestly cannot produce and then be honest and help them find another vendor.
  • Busy — As in, “I’ll call you when I’m not so busy.”  “I’m really busy right now.” The word “busy” gives your customer the impression they are a low priority.
  • Safe — As in, “Let’s play it safe.”  Customers typically want to engage in calculated risks versus playing it safe.
  • Fear — As in, “I fear that we may be moving too fast.”  That tells your customer you haven’t done your homework. MacKay writes, “Common sense, thorough research and sound advice should allay your fears to a reasonable level.”

Take a moment.  Are you absolutely sure every employee in sales, production, operations, marketing, etc., is not using these words, even inadvertently, in front of your customers?

Thanks for the important reminder, Harvey MacKay!

How To Write An Effective Company Policy

In Company Policies, Eric Jacobson Leadership, General Leadership Skills, Leadership on February 1, 2015 at 6:44 am

Keep these five tips in mind when you craft your next company policy:

  1. Keep the policy short and simple.
  2. Get rid of two old policies for every new policy you implement.
  3. Make sure that your organization’s policy and procedures are written to serve your employees and customers–not just your organization.
  4. Don’t write a policy in reaction to a single incident.  The problem may never arise again.
  5. Don’t write a policy longer than one-page, no matter how large your organization may be.

Thanks to author Bob Nelson for these great tips from his book, 1001 Ways To Energize Employees.

How To Learn Your LeaderGrade

In Eric Jacobson On Leadership, General Leadership Skills, Leadership on January 17, 2015 at 6:48 am

If you need a tool to measure your leadership skills, check out LeaderGrade, by Quantum Workplace, which measures your leadership influence by asking your peers and followers to rate your leadership skills.

The online survey tool uses a 45 question assessment to measure your leadership skills across 15 dimensions of leadership.

The survey typically takes respondents seven to 10 minutes to fill out and the results you get will identify your strengths and weaknesses, and will allow you to compare your evaluators’ responses to your own self-assessment.

The self-evaluation survey is free and it’s the first step in the program. Also free is a summary analysis of your results. A full reporting on your results costs $79.

Also, by using LeaderGrade, your leadership skills can be compared to those of other leaders who have completed the LeaderGrade assessment.  I don’t know the pricing for the full program, but the free self-assessment is worth using.

What It Takes To Be A Great Company

In General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Books on December 19, 2014 at 6:07 am

Two years ago, Inc. magazine’s June issue featured a compelling article about author and leadership expert Jim Collins, who has studied leadership for 25 years and penned four best-selling books.

I like to periodically remind myself of that all-important article.

Two of the most powerful takeaways from the article for me are Collin’s definition of a great company:

“To be great, a company has to make a distinctive impact. I define that by a test:  If your company disappeared, would it leave a gaping hole that could not easily be filled by another enterprise on the planet? Now, that doesn’t mean the company has to be big…just that if it went away, people would feel a gaping hole, and no one could easily come in and fill it.”

The second takeaway is the list of 12 questions that Collins says leaders much grapple with if they truly want to excel.  Three of those 12 are these, the first two I tend to think don’t get asked often enough:

  • How can we increase our return on luck?
  • What could kill us, and how can we protect our flanks?
  • Do we have the right people on the bus and in the key seats.

7 Smart Things To Help You Succeed In 2015

In Eric Jacobson Leadership, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Books on December 13, 2014 at 5:36 am

Here are the seven smart things you need to do to succeed in 2015, according to leadership expert. John Baldoni, in his book, Lead With Purpose:

  1. Make purpose a central focus.
  2. Instill purpose in others.
  3. Make employees comfortable with ambiguity.
  4. Turn good intentions into great results.
  5. Make it safe to fail (as well as prevail).
  6. Develop the next generation.
  7. Prepare yourself.

How To Succeed In The First Years Of Your Professional Life

In Eric Jacobson Leadership, General Leadership Skills on October 26, 2014 at 10:58 am

A lot has happened since 1997 when Robert L. Dilenschneider wrote, The Critical First Years of Your Professional Life.  That’s why, 17 years later he released a new edition of his best-seller.

  • “The book contains all the lessons you’ll need to learn about functioning at work,” explains Dilenschneider.

His lessons are based on his four decades of experience in the work world, along with research and dozens of interviews with business experts.

The new edition of the book is particularly relevant today, because, shares Dilenscheider:

  • Not knowing the ropes puts you at a competitive disadvantage.
  • Times have changed, and there are fewer people in today’s workplace willing to help you understand how the world of work operations.

Lessons in the book include:

  • You and Your Bosses
  • Working the Grapevine
  • Networking
  • Making Allies of Your Elders
  • Image
  • Having Influence at Any Level
  • Your Work and Your Personal Life
  • After a Setback
  • Mentors

Former Chariman and CEO of Lockhead Martin Corporation, Norman R. Augustine, says the book, “Offers practical advice on how young people can take charge of their careers and develop independently both the skills required to excel in any environment and the savvy to know when to move on.”

 Dilsenschneider explains that after reading the book, you should:
  • Gain self-knowledge
  • Feel empathy
  • Know how to present yourself well
  • Master how to retrieve information effectively and be informed
  • Be able to solve problems at work

The book is co-authored by Mary Jane Genova.


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