Leadership Spotlight: George Forsythe, Wells Coleman & Company, LLP

George Forsythe is the Managing Partner of Wells, Coleman & Company in Richmond, VA.  George brings great energy and enthusiasm as he drives change and growth within his firm and his clients.  As one of the new, young leaders in the profession, George is leading his team with a clearly defined mission, vision and values, striving to focus on key initiatives each year.  We chose to spotlight George as a leader we admire because he leads by example, he’s always striving to learn and he is persistent in his pursuit of his objectives.  We asked George several questions and here were his replies:

Whose leadership style do you most admire and why?  GF: I’m going to have to draw from an author, Patrick Lencioni.  I’ve recently read most all of Lencioni’s books and truly admire his style of teaching and his ability to take complex business issues and simplify them so that everyday people can understand and put them into practice.  His books start with a leadership fable and build to dramatic points on business practice and leadership.  I have a hard time putting his books down after I’ve begun reading them.  After reading them, I have an even harder time not jumping in head first with ideas he’s provided on how we can improve the firm.

ConvergenceCoaching: What do you think the single most important leadership attribute or characteristic is and why?
GF:  Self-Accountability.  I think that people appreciate leaders who do what they say, when they say, to the best of their abilities.  I believe that self-accountability only builds trust and respect among your team.  Lack of self-accountability often quickly destroys one’s leadership capacity.

ConvergenceCoaching: What do you look for in young up-and-coming leaders? 
 A willingness to get their hands dirty, without complaint or self-promotion.  To quote an old friend, “You can delegate everything but responsibility.  And no matter what, never delegate something that you are unwilling to do yourself.”  Trying not to stereotype the GenY and Millennials, however, as a group, they are often labeled as not willing to put in the hard, after-hours effort.  They desire the pay, respect and acknowledgement, yet, appear unwilling to “pay their dues” as the Baby Boomers might suggest.  Being a GenX, I think the balance lies in the middle.  Step up when you can, without asking, don’t complain, and the respect, acknowledgement and compensation will all take care of themselves.  Nothing worth having comes easily.  To be treated as a professional, you must first behave as a professional.  Respect from others must be earned.

ConvergenceCoaching: How do you develop leadership in others?
GF:  Like a parent who wants a better life for their child.  Invest heavily in education and then cut the apron strings to see how they adapt, improvise and overcome.  Certainly this is easier said than done because none of us want to witness a loved one fail, however, life’s biggest lessons are learned from our biggest failures.

ConvergenceCoaching:What advice do you have for those looking to step into a leadership position in their firms or businesses?
GF: Never compromise your integrity.  Be willing to stand up for what you believe, especially when it doesn’t favor you politically or financially.  And, develop a passion for reading.  You can spend your life trying to self-teach or you can streamline the process by reading from what others have learned.

ConvergenceCoaching:What three words best describe your leadership style?
GF: Kaizen - Passion – Fun;  Kaizen because I aspire to continuously improve myself, our firm, our people and our processes, but not to the point of “gold-plating.”  Passion because I believe our best results are driven by that which we truly care about most.  And finally, Fun because life is short; choose to work with those that you enjoy.  Being happy is worth as much or more than any monetary reward.

ConvergenceCoaching:Can you elaborate on what you mean by gold-plating?
GF: Gold-plating is a term I picked up from an architect.  It basically references the law of diminishing returns, continuing to improve something, always making it perfect for perfect’s sake, when what you’ve already established fits the need and works well.  Improving it even more doesn’t add justifiable value for the effort.

As read back through George’s responses, I find myself nodding in agreement with every point that he makes. We would love to hear how his answers resonated with you as well. At ConvergenceCoaching, we are also big fans of Patrick Lencioni’s work and highly recommend his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fableto many of our clients.

Best Regards,

Michelle Baca