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Mark Jacobs


Mark B. Jacobs has spent 30 years in executive leadership successfully guiding major growth initiatives – many starting as turnaround efforts. He has led re-capitalizations, start-ups, and key organizational change agendas that have scaled company growth and performance. He co-authored the SmartScale process which is built on his years of hands-on experience and expertise in Lean Manufacturing, Quality Systems, Sales & Operations Planning, Category Design & Development, Leadership Development, and Technology-Driven transformations.

What leadership behaviors are essential for a Midlife company that wants to scale?

Here’s why you need to know this:

The degree of scale achieved by midlife companies directly reflects the behavioral standards that leaders set for themselves.

Here's the takeaway:

These 11 leadership behaviors are critical to midlife companies that achieve scale:

  • Stays engaged.
  • Demonstrates high levels of collaboration. We define collaboration as “bringing your best thinking to the discussion expecting better thinking to develop during the collaboration process – with final decisions made by those with pre-agreed decision rights.”
  • Proven subject matter mastery and professional expertise – yet open as a learner to new perspectives.
  • Speaks crisply (code for not filibustering the conversation) candidly and with regard for others.
  • Open and willing to work through confusion/frustration, understanding that is a natural part of driving for deeper insights into unfamiliar territory.
  • An inspirer who builds confidence and steward strong relationships with the people. Through stories and actions, they express how new perspectives will positively impact the organization.
  • Expresses preference for managing initiatives through an ordered project management process.
  • Experienced in internal politics – organizing coalitions for unlocking forward thinking and momentum.
  • Resilience (grit). Extreme challenges energize them, and they are persistent in making change happen, even if it takes a while before they see concrete results.
  • Find value in being different – they are not afraid of being “rebels” and challenging industry norms.
  • Intelligently and “playfully” consider new perspectives – meeting the challenge of digging for new insights around how to give their stakeholders a better version of themselves to create significantly greater value for the business and those that come together to build a community of practice.

What to do:

Understand your leadership style. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Become disciplined about shoring up your weaknesses and use your people’s talents to fill in those weaknesses.

Be honest, humble, and transparent when you fall short. (Don’t hide your need for help!) The most admirable form of leadership is leading through example. Be the example of how to ask for help and work through struggles. When you do, you’ll unlock better collaboration, more productive teamwork, and higher levels of engagement.

How to do it:

Make a leadership development plan. Seek team member feedback and outside counsel. An informed outsider that understands the challenges of scaling a midlife company will bring perspective and ideas that aren’t easy to see. They will also help you widen your views on leadership.

Go Deeper:

If you want greater detail about how to scale your midlife business, check out The Mid-Life Business Acceleration Story: A New Perspective on Disruptive Transformation and Exponential Growth.

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