23: Leaders with Heart Understand That in Order to Catch Fish You Must Cast Among Them

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Today on the podcast we have Eric Jacobsen, SVP of Operations for Extraction Oil and Gas, a publicly traded oil and gas company out of Colorado. In this episode, Eric and I talk about why he chooses to lead, a time when he was not proud of himself as a leader and how he changed that at about the many ways he connects with his team.

We also talk about maintaining the proper focus on what is important as a leader and some key ways to reach across the table and collaborate to produce a larger team focus.

We discuss how sports or extracurricular activities can form us as leaders and expand our view. The most important takeaway was in Eric’s description of how he emulated many of the greatest leaders he worked with to become the leader he is today. In his words,

Look at yourself in the mirror; keep your people at the forefront; Observe others. Click To Tweet

Listen in to hear his wisdom.

Career History:

Senior Vice President for Extraction since October 2016 following nearly 6 years of DJ Basin experience with Noble Energy in various senior leader (Director) roles over operations, production, engineering and planning/development.

Prior to DJ Basin, 18 years of experience with the ARCO, Vastar and BP heritage corporate chain in Montana, Houston, Lafayette, Gulf of Mexico, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Angola and various other national/international locations.  Led various operations, engineering and project teams up to 500 employees and up to $2B budget annual spend.


Key accomplishments:  

Successful project, development, engineering and operations delivery over 23 years and across the oil and gas industry; lifetime relationships across the world; served operations leadership role in containing and capping the Macondo well (July 2010); helped elevate Noble DJ assets into the forefront of HZ unconventional development over 6 years as a senior leader; Noble CEO Innovation Award for Integrated Development Plans (IDPs);  Noble Engineering Mentor of the Year (2012); Montana Tech Foundation Board of Directors; Montana Tech Athletic Hall of Fame inductee (football).

Early Start in Leadership

From a young age, I’ve always loved to succeed as a team, where I have a leadership role. And every member of the team not only succeeds together, but grows individually.

There have been teams that I’ve been captain or a leader of back in high school, college football and basketball, to some multi-national teams abroad, in Algeria, in Azerbaijan, to the fantastic team we have at Extraction Oil and Gas.

When I really look back at my career, that’s what I’m most proud of – the moments of success we had together, where we delivered something remarkably, overcame odds, we grew closer together, everybody grew and developed as an individual and as a team.

Whatever it is that was built inside me from an early age, I just have always loved to succeed together and to watch everyone else grow and benefit individually, as well as a team. #leadershpiwithheart Click To Tweet

Sports and Leadership

I think that sports plays a huge part in forming leaders of the future. Sometimes we don’t take that as seriously as we should but I think it really does. Here is Eric’s take on it:

Athletics or other extra-curricular activities, whether it’s the band, or debate, or drum – everybody has something that helped kickstart their leadership style in their formative years as a leader.

For me, it was sports. I can really point to several individuals in my athletic career as well as my professional career who I took something from, from people I admire. I was always on the lookout for leaders whom they had a quality that was something to admire.

People are watching you all the time, whether you know it or not. #leadership #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

The safety and well-being of people comes first. #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Leadership Priorities

I asked Eric, “How is it that you keep centered on that when there’s pressures from the board and from everywhere, to say, “Listen, safety’s first”? How do you keep centered in that focus? I know how fast things move, I see it myself.”

Well, I think there’s probably several things.

One is, as a leader you come fast to the realization that without people – motivated, loyal, quality people – the rest of it can’t happen. The production would cost; the rest doesn’t matter if you don’t have wonderful, talented, loyal people delivering the business day in and day out.

I’ve been super fortunate in my career to have dozens and dozens of those incredible people that I’ve been lucky enough to work with.

The other piece is, as a leader and especially in the oil and gas business, and especially in Colorado, our license to operate is at stake. If we can’t operate safely, if we can’t send our people home and our contractors and our vendors and all those who we work with, and our stakeholders, we can’t be safe.

If we can’t make sure that they’re sent home every night after work, the same way they came or better then, again, our license to operate and our ability to be a successful company is severely compromised.

I guess it’s really just about caring for people. You want somebody to lead your son or daughter, or niece or nephew, in a way that makes sure that they’re safe and that their well-being is being looked out for. Click To Tweet

Pay attention to those who you admire. Ask for their advice. Observe them. Pick up the tendencies and characteristics that you admire that you think are suitable for your style. Click To Tweet



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