Jacobs Consulting & Executive Coaching principal Ken Jacobs uncovers some of the secrets to leadership success during challenging times on the latest “PR’s Top Pros Talk” video interview with Doug Simon.

"When I look at the agency CEOs and owners and corporate communications leaders who are really leading powerfully and effectively during these times, what I'm seeing rise to the top is courage,” Jacobs says.

Another basic principle is trust. “Let your people know that you trust them and that they can trust you, that you have their backs through everything.” The rule for building that trust, he says, is pretty straightforward—“act in a trustworthy manner and do so consistently.”

It can also be beneficial to show your vulnerability, he says. "Being willing to be a little bit vulnerable can be very, very powerful. I know some leaders resist it, but in reality, willingness to be vulnerable can build psychological safety.”

He also says that leadership is not just the job of the CEO, it extends through all the levels of an organization. “So many people have the opportunity to start to lead early in their careers,” he says. “If you look in your organization, you'll see those leaders or leaders in training.”

Several other leadership must-haves are discussed in the conversation. Learning and growing never stop being important, Jacobs tells Simon. It’s also important to make empathy a major part of your management technique.

And perhaps the most important is to have what Jacobs calls an opportunity mindset. “The leader’s mindset has such a big impact and influence on the organization and all the team members,” he says. He cautions against playing the victim, and says leaders should avoid negativity.

“If you come into the office environment, even via Zoom or Microsoft Teams, and it's with anger and conflict and what's wrong and who's to blame, you're going to get that back in spades,” he says.

On the other hand, “energy is contagious,” and combined with an opportunity mindset can yield positive results. “We will morph, our organizations will morph, and we will come out better on the other side. So, as a leader, make sure you're consistently seeing the opportunity ahead. And if you do that, so will your leaders under you, your leaders in training and your team.”

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