Eric Jacobson

Archive for the ‘Mentoring’ Category

Choose To Select A Mentor For 2017

In Eric Jacobson On Leadership, Leadership, Mentoring, Uncategorized on November 29, 2016 at 4:49 pm

Having a mentor is one of the best things you can do to advance your career as a leader. So, decide today to secure a mentor who will work with you during 2017. Make that one of your New Year’s resolutions.

A mentor can benefit leaders new to their leadership role and they can benefit experienced and seasoned leaders, as well.

A strong mentoring relationship allows the mentor and the mentee to develop new skills and talents, to build confidence, and to build self-awareness.

Proper mentoring takes a commitment from both parties and it takes time to develop and to reap the rewards of the relationship. Plan to work with your mentor for no less than three months, and ideally for six months or longer.

When seeking out a mentor, think about these questions:

1.  Will the relationship have good personal chemistry?

2.  Can this person guide me, particularly in the areas where I am weakest?

3.  Will this person take a genuine interest in me?

4.  Does this person have the traits and skills I want to develop?

5.  Is this a person I admire?

6.  Does this person have the time needed to properly mentor me? And, do I also have the time to devote to a mentoring relationship?

Most often, you’ll find your best mentors are not your supervisors, but instead are other individuals in your workplace, at other companies in your city, or are members of organizations to which you belong.

Before you start to search for your mentor for 2017, take some time to learn more about mentoring — how mentoring programs work most effectively and what to expect from a mentoring relationship.

One nice benefit of having mentoring as a New Year’s resolution is you’ll have a dedicated partner helping you to fulfill your resolution!

The Difference Between Coaches And Mentors

In Coaching, Eric Jacobson Leadership, Eric Jacobson On Leadership, Mentoring on November 25, 2014 at 9:52 am

Author Kristi Hedges, in her book, The Power of Presence, provides these explanations of the roles of a coach and of a mentor and how they differ from each other:

The Coach shows empathy through a mixture of tough love and strong support.  The coach is not afraid to push you because she sees the best in you.  This leader has a good sense of what’s going on in the rest of your life and isn’t afraid to mention it as it relates to your performance and potential.

The Mentor makes you feel that your success is always top of mind.  Mentors have your back to guide you along in your career.  They will act as a confidante as you hash through ideas and won’t hold it against you as your iterate.  Because they have done well, they operate from a point of helping others do the same.

Be A Leader Who Teaches

In Corporate Culture, Effective Communications, Engaging Employees, Eric Jacobson On Corporate Culture, Eric Jacobson On Leadership, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Management, Mentoring, Motivating Employees on February 17, 2013 at 10:47 am


Take the opportunity today to teach an employee something new. Nearly everyone likes to learn and is capable of tackling a new challenge.

  • Teach your employee something that expands his (or her) current job description.
  • Teach something that will help him to get promoted within your organization at a later date.
  • Teach him a skill that uses new technology.
  • Or, teach him something that will allow him to be a more skilled leader and manager in the future.

You can even teach something that you no longer need to be doing in your position, but that will be a rewarding challenge/task for your employee.

The benefit to your employee is obvious. The benefit to you is you’ll have a more skilled team member who is capable of handling more work that can help you to grow your business and/or make it run more efficiently.

Be a leader who teaches.

Insights On Mentoring

In Eric Jacobson On Leadership, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Management, Mentoring on December 20, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Leadership with education

When I think about excellent mentors in the business world, I think of Debbie Laskey, who has mentored many people during her career.  Debbie is passionate about mentoring.  So, she’s an ideal person to answer the following five questions about mentoring:

1.  Why do you enjoy being a mentor?

Since I have been in the workplace for nearly two decades, I have had the opportunity to learn from a number of individuals. Some were supervisors, some were executives, some were co-workers, and some were employees who reported to me. However, the mentorship relationship is different than those relationships. As a mentor, I have been able to share what I’ve learned with individuals (mentees) who are at the beginning stages of building a business. They have an insatiable appetite for suggestions and always appreciate ideas – even if they don’t apply them immediately. Mentees have no agenda and no time for unnecessary drama. While they may question suggestions, most of the time, they have an open mind, and this characteristic often leads to long-term success.

2.  Before a mentee enters into a mentoring engagement what should he/she ask himself/herself?

Before a mentee enters into a mentorship engagement, he or she must write down five objectives and a realistic timeframe. Is one objective to finalize a business plan or marketing plan? Is one objective to determine how to build a database of leads? Is one objective how to develop strategic partnerships? Whatever the objectives are, the mentee must know what they are before the mentorship begins– or the mentorship will fail before it even begins. And, how long should the mentor and mentee continue to dialogue? Three months? Six months? It is critical to set a timeframe so that the mentor can stagger the talking points and action items.

3.  What type of person makes an effective mentor?

The art of being an effective mentor is dependent on five things. First, a mentor must make a time commitment to the mentee, so he or she needs to have time available. Second, a mentor must be able to communicate easily and clearly. Third, a mentor must be knowledgeable in a myriad of areas. Fourth, a mentor must be a problem-solver. And fifth, a mentor must like the role of cheerleader. While it might make sense to have a mentor in the same industry, that’s not always the best solution if you can find a multi-dimensional business leader.

4.  Of all the mentors you have had in your life, what did you like most about the one who you believe was a good mentor to you?

My most important mentor has been my father. He demonstrated an amazing work ethic, and that dedication has been part of my professional life since my first job. He also taught me the importance of client service (aka, customer service), and the importance of returning phone calls and emails as soon as possible. Also, since my father was a CPA, he was always reading about new tax laws, so he taught me at an early age to stay up-to-date on my industry and trends.

5.  If you can’t find a mentor within your workplace, where are good places to find a mentor?

Network with your contacts through social media. Post to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ that you’re looking for a mentor. In addition, check out This site offers a variety of mentorship connections. Lastly, once you’ve benefited from your mentorship, pay it forward. Be a mentor to someone else!

In the words of John Crosby: “Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.”

Debbie Laskey has a BA Degree in Political Science and an MBA Degree with a concentration in Marketing and International Management. She began her career in law and accounting, but after graduate school, she transitioned into marketing. 

Her diverse marketing experience ranges from the high-tech industry to the Consumer Marketing Department at Disneyland Paris in France to the non-profit industry to the insurance industry. 

Debbie’s areas of expertise include marketing, branding, social media, employee engagement, and customer experiences. Follow Debbie on Twitter @DebbieLaskeyMBA and on her blog.

Leadership Insights From Top Business Women

In Company Culture, Corporate Culture, Effective Communications, Employee Engagement, Employee Satisfaction, Engaging Employees, Leadership, Leadership Quotes, Leadership Skills, Leadership Training, Leading By Example, Listening Skills, Management, Mentoring, Team Building on September 6, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Every year, the Kansas City Business Journal honors 25 women business leaders in the Kansas City metro in its “Women Who Mean Business” awards competition.

The winners are identified as those women in the community who:

  • are outstanding in their business accomplishments
  • have growth plans for their companies
  • contribute to the community
  • improve the climate for women in business

Key insights from this year’s recently announced winners include these comments and observations:

  • “Listen to people who know the business.”
  • “I’ve learned when I’m angry to walk away, calm down.  Never, ever, ever react in anger to anybody.”
  • “Loyalty is not something you can spot right away; attitude is.  Attitude is something you can’t teach.”
  • “Mentoring is opening doors for younger people.”
  • “Work hard, but enjoy what you do”
  • “If you don’t give back to the community, how can you be a whole person?”
  • “Our job as business leaders is to bring out the best efforts from the most people.  Give them something purposeful and meaningful, and great things will happen.”
  • “I try to find people that I respect not only professionally, but personally.”
  • “You have to be a good listener and a good problem-solver.”
  • Pay attention and enjoy where you are instead of worrying about what’s 10 steps ahead of you.”
  • “I’m always focusing on what is this decision going to look like five years from now.”
  • “I will not pretend I have all the answers.  I will seek input from others so I can develop the right answers.”

When To Coach And When To Counsel

In Coaching, Effective Communications, Employee Engagement, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Books, Leadership Education, Leadership Skills, Leadership Training, Management, Mentoring, Setting Goals, Uncategorized on March 28, 2012 at 7:35 pm

A good manager is both a coach and a counselor.  Generally, coaching should precede counseling.

As a coach,a manager:

  • identifies an employee’s need for instruction and direction

and this need is usually directly related to his or her performance or career goals.  Coaching is collaborative. It relies on mutual, progressive goal-setting, personal feedback, and an ongoing, supportive relationship.

You coach to help retain employees and to show you care about your employees as individuals.  It’s best to coach when a new procedure is introduced, a job is changed, and/or a skill gap is identified.

As a counselor, a manager:

  • first identifies a problem that interferes with an employee’s work performance and then helps the employee to define specifically what behavior he or she needs to change in order to improve his or her performance or resolve a problem.

So, the difference between coach and counselor is subtle, but important.  And, as Sharon Armstrong further shares in her book, “The Essential HR Handbook,” a good manager who is both a coach and a counselor:

  • Motivates employees to do good work
  • Reinforces good performance
  • Encourages employees to stretch
  • Sets clear expectations
  • Provides positive feedback on an ongoing basis
  • Provides constructive feedback on a timely basis
  • Acknowledges employees’ progress toward their goals

Book Review: The First-Time Manager, Sixth Edition

In Effective Communications, Employee Satisfaction, General Leadership Skills, Hiring, Leadership, Leadership Books, Leadership Education, Leadership Skills, Leadership Training, Leading By Example, Listening Skills, Management, Mentoring, Motivating Employees, Soliciting Feedback, Team Building on February 26, 2012 at 7:15 am

Amacom (of the American Management Association) has just released the sixth edition of the best-selling book, The First-Time Manager — originally published in 1981.

The book covers eight core responsibilities of a new manager, including:

  • Hiring
  • Communicating
  • Planning
  • Organizing
  • Training
  • Monitoring
  • Evaluating
  • Firing

Expert advice is additionally provided regarding:

  • Using Your New Authority
  • Managing Your Mood
  • Building Trust

One of my favorite sections of the book is the one about class in a manager:

  • Class is treating people with dignity.
  • Class does not have to be the center of attention.
  • Class does not lose its cool.
  • Class does not rationalize mistakes.
  • Class is good manners.
  • Class means loyalty to one’s staff.
  • Class recognizes the best way to build oneself is to first build others.
  • Class leads by example.
  • Class does not taken action when angry.
  • Class is authentic and works hard at making actions consistent with words.

The First-Time Manager is an excellent how-to guide for anyone new to managing people.

Other books for new managers include any from the Top 20 list of Leadership Books, as voted on by LinkedIn Linked 2 Leadership group members, who were asked the question:

  • What’s the first leadership book you would give to a new manager?

Top 20 Leadership Books: What To Give First To A New Manager

In Effective Communications, Employee Engagement, General Leadership Skills, Hiring Great People, Leadership, Leadership Books, Leadership Education, Leadership Quotes, Leadership Skills, Leadership Training, Leading By Example, Listening Skills, Management, Mentoring, Motivating Employees, Sales Management, Setting Goals, Strategic Planning, Team Building on December 10, 2011 at 6:53 am

Eighteen months ago, I posted the question “What’s The First Leadership Book You Would Give To a New Manager?” within the discussion forum for the LinkedIn group Linked 2 Leadership.

That question generated 603 comments and 690 recommendations.  Some people suggested more than one book.  Some during the course of the 18 months made the same book recommendations a couple times.  And, the group discussion continues to be one of the most active still today.

In early November 2011, group member Len White graciously culled through the comments using his company’s Symphony Content Analysis Software that assists with the organization, analysis, and reporting of themes contained in text data.

And here are the results:

·    412 different/unique books were recommended

·    The Top 20 recommended books, collectively, received 250 of the total recommendations

·    Two authors – Stephen R. Covey and John C. Maxwell each have two books in the Top 20

·    Group members recommended other things instead of giving a book about leadership to a new manager, such as:

o   Interviewing everyone in the company with whom they will directly work 

o   Giving a book about management first

o   Mentoring the person for a period of time before recommending a leadership book

And, unlike a question about “What is Your Favorite Leadership Book,” the question this time asked what is the first book you would give to a new manager.

The Top 20 Books are:

  1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey
  2. Leadership and Self-Deception– Arbinger Institute
  3. The One Minute Manager– Kenneth H. Blanchard
  4. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership– John C. Maxwell
  5. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team– Patrick Lencioni
  6. First Break All the Rules– Marcus Buckingham
  7. The Leadership Challenge– Jim Kouzes
  8. The First 90 Days– Michael Watkins
  9. How to Win Friends and Influence People– Dale Carnegie
  10. Good to Great– Jim Collins
  11. It’s Your Ship– Michael Abrashoff
  12. The Speed of Trust– Stephen R. Covey
  13. Developing the Leader Within You– John C. Maxwell
  14. Who Moved My Cheese– Spencer Johnson
  15. Don’t Bring it to Work– Sylvia Lafair
  16. Leaders Without Borders– Doug Dickerson
  17. Leadership and the One Minute Manager– Kenneth H. Blanchard
  18. On Becoming a Leader– Warren Bennis
  19. The Anatomy of Peace– Arbinger Institute
  20. The Art of Possibility– Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Stone Zander

Within the Top 35 list of the book recommendations, you’ll find four more John C. Maxwell books, including:

·        The 360 Degree Leader

·        Developing the Leaders Around  You

·        Failing Forward

·        Leadership 101

The authors and leadership book publishers most discussed within the group forum have been:

·        Dale Carnegie

·        Jim Collins

·        Jim Kouzes

·        John C. Maxwell

·        Kenneth H. Blanchard

·        Marcus Buckingham

·        Michael Watkins

·        Patrick Lencioni

·        Stephen R. Covey

·        Arbinger Institute

Group discussion participants are clearly inspired by a wide variety of books – biographies, autobiographies, books backed by research and academia, books made famous by the popular press, books by motivation speakers, and books by professionals eager to share their personal and professional leadership success stories, tips and suggestions.

Finally, the book I recommended, The Leadership Test, by Timothy R. Clark made it within the Top 35.

Thanks to all the group members who made recommendations and to Tom Schulte, Executive Director of Linked 2 Leadership, and the owner and moderator for the LinkedIn group, Linked 2 Leadership, which has 19,678 members.

Note:  Symphony Content Analysis Software is designed and published by Active Java.

70 Ways To Be A Better Leader

In Company Culture, Effective Communications, Employee Engagement, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Education, Leadership Skills, Listening Skills, Making Decisions, Management, Mentoring, Motivating Employees, Soliciting Feedback, Team Building on July 9, 2011 at 4:57 am

This list of 70 ways to be a more effective leader is one I like to review every couple weeks:

1. Don’t micromanage
2. Don’t be a bottleneck
3. Focus on outcomes, not minutiae
4. Build trust with your colleagues before a crisis comes
5. Assess your company’s strengths and weaknesses at all times
6. Conduct annual risk reviews

7. Be courageous, quick and fair
8. Talk more about values more than rules
9. Reward how a performance is achieved and not only the performance
10. Constantly challenge your team to do better
11. Celebrate your employees’ successes, not your own
12. Err on the side of taking action

13. Communicate clearly and often
14. Be visible
15. Eliminate the cause of a mistake
16. View every problem as an opportunity to grow
17. Summarize group consensus after each decision point during a meeting
18. Praise when compliments are earned

19. Be decisive
20. Say “thank you” and sincerely mean it
21. Send written thank you notes
22. Listen carefully and don’t multi-task while listening
23. Teach something new to your team
24. Show respect for all team members
25. Follow through when you promise to do something
26. Allow prudent autonomy

27. Respond to questions quickly and fully
28. Return e-mails and phone calls promptly
29. Give credit where credit is due
30. Take an interest in your employees and their personal milestone events
31. Mix praise with constructive feedback for how to make improvement
32. Learn the names of your team members even if your team numbers in the hundreds
33. Foster mutual commitment
34. Admit your mistakes
35. Remove nonperformers
36. Give feedback in a timely manner and make it individualized and specific

37. Hire to complement, not to duplicate
38. Volunteer within your community and allow your employees to volunteer
39. Promote excellent customer service both internally and externally
40. Show trust
41. Encourage peer coaching
42. Encourage individualism and welcome input

43. Share third-party compliments about your employees with your employees
44. Be willing to change your decisions
45. Be a good role model
46. Be humble
47. Explain each person’s relevance
48. End every meeting with a follow-up To Do list
49. Explain the process and the reason for the decisions you make
50. Read leadership books to learn

51. Set clear goals and objectives
52. Reward the doers
53. Know yourself
54. Use job descriptions
55. Encourage personal growth and promote training, mentoring and external education
56. Share bad news, not only good news
57. Start meetings on time

58. Discipline in private
59. Seek guidance when you don’t have the answer
60. Tailor your motivation techniques
61. Support mentoring – both informal and formal mentoring
62. Don’t interrupt
63. Ask questions to clarify

64. Don’t delay tough conversations
65. Have an open door policy
66. Dig deep within your organization for ideas on how to improve processes, policies and procedures
67. Do annual written performance appraisals
68. Insist on realism
69. Explain how a change will impact employees’ feelings before, during and after the change is implemented
70. Have face-to-face interaction as often as possible

Brian Tracy Shows Leaders How To Make Employees Happy In New Book: Full Engagement

In Company Culture, Effective Communications, Employee Engagement, General Leadership Skills, Hiring Great People, Leadership, Leadership Books, Leadership Skills, Leadership Training, Leading By Example, Listening Skills, Management, Mentoring, Motivating Employees, Team Building on May 25, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Best-selling author Brian Tracy’s newest book, Full Engagement, provides practical advice for how to inspire your employees to perform at their absolute best. He explains that above nearly every measure, employees’ most powerful single motivator is the “desire to be happy”.

So, Tracy teaches you how to make your employees happy by:

  • Organizing their work from the first step in the hiring process through the final step in their departure from your company so they are happy with you, their work, their coworkers, as well as in their interactions with your customers, suppliers and vendors.

Full Engagement includes these chapters and topics:

  • The Psychology of Motivation
  • Ignite the Flame of Personal Performance
  • Make People Feel Important
  • Drive Out Fear
  • Create That Winning Feeling
  • Select The Right People
  • Internal Versus External Motivation

At a minimum, Tracy suggests that managers do the following when managing their employees:

  • Smile
  • Ask questions
  • Listen
  • Be polite
  • Say “Thank You”
  • Keep employees informed
  • Encourage improvement
  • Treat employees like volunteers
  • Pay employees well
  • Compliment employees
  • Assure harmony
  • Praise regularly
  • Refuse to criticize
  • Celebrate success
  • Express interest in employees
  • Be a mentor
  • Give employees freedom to do their work
  • Protect employees from negativity, rudeness or bad treatment from other people
  • Be pleasant
  • Speak positively about your staff with other people
  • Be clear about employee’s job responsibilities
  • Give feedback
  • Be a good role model
  • Disagree without being disagreeable
  • Set clear, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bounded goals

One of my favorite sections of the book is where Tracy outlines the Law of Three for hiring:

  • Interview three candidates
  • Interview the person you like best three times
  • Interview the that person in three different meeting places
  • Have three different people interview you top candidate

Tracy provides a number of compelling personal references and examples from his vast business experience and upbringing in Full Engagement. In addition, each chapter in the book ends with a list of Action Exercises to help you implement Tracy’s guidance.

I recommend the book for any manager who wants to learn how best to work with an employee to:

  • build up his/her self-esteem
  • build his/her self-image
  • drive away his/her fears
  • make him/her feel like a winner

Note:  Thanks to the publisher for providing me an advance copy of the book.

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