Q&A with Ken Jacobs

On Twitter today, I interviewed Ken Jacobs (@kenwork57) of Jacobs Communication Consulting, who’ll be speaking about leadership at the upcoming HOW Mind Your Own Business Conference. I especially liked Ken’s comments about leadership being more about THEM and less about YOU. Here’s a recap of our conversation:

First, tell us a bit about who you are and the work that you do.
Principal, Jacobs Communications Consulting helping communications firms grow business, improve client service & enhance staff performance

You work with marketing communication firms on management and growth issues. What challenges are you seeing in the market now?
Business is up but some execs are nervous to invest in staff development/retention, unsure if recovery’s real. A mistake, in my opinion.

We’re hearing similar: Business is up, but people are still fearful. Why, do you think?
Great Recession went so deep, wide. Some business owners are too young to remember previous ones. But history proves that those who invest at times like these benefit. Look at business history: Investing in professional development, marketting, client service will fuel your firm’s recovery.

Business & management aren’t typically skills a designer/communicator learned in college. How do you help them?
I help them become better leaders, communicators, marketers, biz people and providers of 5-star client service

Let’s talk about the subject of your MYOB presentation: Leadership. What makes a good leader?
Through interviews with many leaders and my own experience, I’ve found 9 critical points; I’ll share at my preso.

How much do we learn about leadership by watching others? I’ve learned from bad leaders as much as good ones!
I agree! And it’s crucial to observe oneself to learn from one’s leadership “failures”

What’s the most important leadership task for the head of a design/creative firm?
Know that Owner doesn’t = Leader. Make a conscious decision to lead; commit to enhancing your leadership skills

It seems like most people “back into” leadership positions; it’s not an intentional path. Is that a fair assessment?
I think many get elevated because they’re good managers. Doesn’t mean they’re greater leaders. Yet.

Is leadership as important for a small biz as it is in larger organizations?
Absolutely. You’re only a leader after followers, whether 2 or 200, make the decision to follow you. Put another way, you become a leader by inspiring those 2 or 200 followers to follow you.

How do leaders develop? How can principals polish their skills, create a vision & lead?
1) Articulate that vision 2) Invite potential followers to contribute to it 3) Unless it’s a shared vision, you’re leading an organization of one.

What’s the biggest leadership mistake you see? How do people fix it?
Many owners don’t see they can’t appoint themselves leaders. Their followers “anoint” them by choosing to follow them, based on vision, trust, inspiration.

Learn more about MYOB and register to attend (today is the last day to secure a discount rate at the conference hotel, the Sheraton Hotel & Towers in NYC).

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