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7 Questions on Leadership with Jim Robinson

Name: Jim Robinson

Title: COO

Organisation: Northern Oilfield Services

Jimmy Robinson is a seasoned business leader with a two-decade track record of success at prominent companies, including Northern Oilfield Services, Hi-Cal Solutions, Greene’s Energy Group, and Rocky Mountain Testers. His expertise and wide-ranging business acumen have consistently led to the development of process improvements, enhancing productivity, reliability, and client satisfaction. As the Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Northern Oilfield Services, he oversaw remarkable growth, expanding the employee base tenfold in three years. Jimmy is known for his "All-In" approach to leadership, excelling at team building, finance, and strategy.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Sara's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

That being seen doing the right thing is as important as doing the right thing. Leadership boils down to a lot of showmanship. Doing the right thing in the right way and then making sure that it is viewed in the correct light. It is not enough to simply do what is best for your company, your employees and your stakeholders; it is vital to be seen and understood as you act in the collectives best interest.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

No one becomes a leader, at least not consciously. Or at least the good ones do not. Leaders that really deserve that title and all that go with it must focus on everything not related to leadership so that they might become the kind of person people would want to follow. It has been said in many different ways but ultimately if you have to tell people you are a leader, you probably aren't.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I do not set an alarm unless I have an early flight or other out-of-the-ordinary event. I book all my meetings for mid-morning so that I can keep the afternoons clear for thoughts, special projects, and one-on-one discussions with team members. Throughout the day I use task reminders to make sure that I do not forget the mundane and scheduled activities that help our businesses grow. I like to wind down around 9:30 pm and take that time to have an extended cool-down period before falling asleep around midnight.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

In broad terms it is to treat your employees the same by treating them differently. On the ground staff are not as keen on ambiquity as say your sales and management team. They want a strong and coherent narrative that they can get behind each and every day. Your management team needs ambiquity so that they may use thier talents to create new ideas and paths forward. It seems fake at times but ulitmately you need to model a message for your audience and not for your own comfort.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

I reread "The Go-Giver" once a quarter, more because it remeinds me of what I want to be and not what I am naturaly gifted at. As I have to reread it so much it may not be that influencial in the scheme of things. More general I would say that my goal of reading at least one biography a month has collectively impacted me the most. The wide range of talents, ideas and faults of so many great leaders helps to remind you when you are in the metephorical trences, that there is no one magic bullet and that even for the greatest individuals, setbacks are the norm and success are fleeting.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

That if you find yourself wanting to be a leader, you are going to be disappointed. The best leader is the reluctant leader. Focus on your expertise or on the way you can help the most people. If you are truly great at your calling, leadership is yours by default, and that leadership is far stronger than a leadership role that is forced, cajoled or otherwise sought after.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

In general it is the stories of others. The people I gave a chance to that grew beyond my ability to keep them within the organization. Every time someone leaves our company on good terms for a greater opportunity, those are the stories that speak to what is possible if you do a few things right and try to always do right by others.

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