We’re continuing our profiles on leadership series with Kathy Jacoby, Marketing Director.
How do you encourage creative thinking within your department?
Every quarter I do a full-day offsite with my team to encourage creative thinking/problem solving for the upcoming months. Getting out of the office without distractions really helps with both team building and creative thinking as well as ensuring alignment.
What are the biggest challenge facing young leaders today?
Not letting traditional ways of doing things within a company prevent you from introducing new, innovative concepts or products. Voicing a healthy challenge to looking at new ways of solving business issues can be the best thing you can offer a company – especially successful companies that need to maintain their competitive edge.
What advice would you give someone stepping into a leadership position for the first time?
Concentrate on building a strong team. Having a strong team is a key foundational aspect of leadership. Without that, you won’t have engaged employees, which means productivity and quality can suffer. Building a strong team also creates an environment for greater delegation, which means you as a leader can look towards the future and what you need to accomplish for the organization in your role.
What advice would you give to someone taking on his or her first “real world” job?
Be a student of the business. Understand the operations in a meaningful way, so you can make more informed decisions. Also, look at every touch point from the customers’ perspective. Take time to understand the customer journey, where the gaps are and keep the company focused on ways to improve the customer experience. Also, know your competitors and what differentiates your company and products to create a more compelling value proposition.
What do you do to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
Continue to attend external industry trade meetings, conferences and seminars to keep abreast of the latest developments in your field. I bring back 3 – 4 new ideas from these educational sessions and implement them where there is a need to foster innovation.
Do you think it’s important to fail? Why or why not.
If you don’t fail, you don’t grow as a person. Every small mistake that you make, you can learn and grow from, which makes you a much more well-rounded individual in the future. Often, mistakes are made because that is not your main area of expertise, but you learn quickly to develop that skill set going forward.
What is the difference between leadership and management?
Leadership is the art of leading and inspiring teams to accomplish a common vision or objective. Management is making sure the tasks are accomplished on time, on budget and in a quality way to meet business objectives. Leadership is visionary, while management is focused on successful execution.