We’re excited to feature Jack G. Lee, III as our latest Convergence Spotlight. Jack is a partner at ConvergenceCoaching and plays a significant role as a lead coach in our Transformational Leadership Programs™ (TLP). He’s all about living the “get better” life and if you want proof, just check out one of his many blogs on goal-setting or relationship building.
In addition to his work with our Convergence team and clients, Jack leads his own tax practice in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. Prior to this, Jack was a partner of Deloitte LLP and Deloitte Tax LLP, where he provided services to Fortune 500 companies.
Here’s what Jack had to say about leadership:
ConvergenceCoaching: What is it about a leader that you believe makes others genuinely want to follow them?
JL: The leadership attribute that is most appealing to me as “follower” is approachability. This shows up in a leader’s ability and willingness to listen and to “come down to the level” of those they lead, and make it clear that we are on the same team. I also appreciate leaders who are honest and positive, who are good “teachers,” and who willingly share their relationships, wisdom and vision for the future.
ConvergenceCoaching: Whose leadership style do you admire most and why?
JL: With the recent celebration of Father’s Day, I am reminded that the first leader who demonstrated these attributes for me was my dad, Jack Jr. I am blessed to have a dad I could approach and interrupt, who would stop what he was doing and listen to me, and who shared his wisdom and experience with me as if I was his “peer.” When I was 10 years old hanging out in my dad’s woodworking shop, I asked “What are we going to do next?”, then corrected myself to ask, “What are you going to do next?” But my dad said, “You were right the first time when you asked, "What are we going to do next?"
Later when I began my career with Deloitte, I was blessed to be recruited, trained and mentored by Greg Sloma. One time, I shared that my career seemed like a “race” among my peers with a door at the end that only one of us could enter. Greg shared his vision and perspective by asking me, “Did you ever think that when you arrive at the “door” you may be the only one remaining?” Greg also told me, “Don’t graduate, start a new job, get married, buy a house and have your first child all in the same year.” While I couldn’t fully understand Greg’s advice at the time, I later grew to appreciate Greg’s willingness to be “vulnerable” and to share his life experiences with me.
ConvergenceCoaching: What is the most challenging part of being a leader? What is your advice for successfully overcoming this challenge?
JL: The most challenging part of being a leader is realizing that leadership is more about “being” than doing, and more about others than it is about me. I can be so focused on getting my work done and my checklist completed, that I struggle with the very thing I appreciate in other leaders – approachability. I need to remember that my relationships with people are more important than my emails and administrative tasks. And when I really have a critical client or other deadline, I need to stop long enough to understand the “gist” of the situation and to schedule a later time when I can really listen and dedicate my full attention.
ConvergenceCoaching: Do you believe that great leaders are born or made? Why?
JL: I believe that everyone is a leader regardless of their experience, role level or title. This implies that everyone is born with the capacity to be a leader and to learn and gain the skills required to become a great leader. I acknowledge that individuals recognized by history as really great leaders are “born” to meet the specific challenges of their times, for example, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King. Yet when we examine the lives of these great leaders, we see their human nature, their faults, hesitations and struggles - that they are more regular, “everyday” people than anything else. Perhaps the two most important attributes of the greatest leaders are their ability to recognize the need for leadership and their willingness to serve.
ConvergenceCoaching: Do you have a favorite movie or book that you feel exemplifies what it means to be a great leader?
JL: At this point in my life, the Bible has become my favorite book. From beginning to end it teaches many important life lessons, including lessons on leadership. As I think about this question, I realize that the important leadership attributes that came to mind in my response to the first question – are all attributes of God. Our heavenly father is all knowing, all powerful and present everywhere, yet he is still approachable and willing to “come down” to my level. God pursues a relationship with me and never gives up on me even when I reject him and pursue my own way. By reading the Bible and through life experiences – both good and bad - I find God to be a good teacher who desires to share his character and wisdom with me. Ultimately, God provides the best model of what it means to be a great leader.
ConvergenceCoaching: What would you like ConvergenceCoaching blog readers to know about you?
JL: I love God, the ultimate great leader, and seek to follow him closely every day. I love my wife of 32 years, Angie, and thank God for the blessing she is to me. I love our children, Jack IV, Rachel and Katie, and acknowledge that being their dad is the best thing to ever happen to me. I love people and the work I am privileged to do through ConvergenceCoaching – it’s not really work at all. I love where I am and what is happening in the moment, and have difficulty leaving a party or going to bed at night. I love having family and friends in our house and cooking for them. I love working in the yard, cycling, running, and golfing. I am addicted to watching Milwaukee Brewer baseball all summer. Finally, I have a very low humor “threshold” and love to laugh at the same funny stories again and again.
If you didn’t already gather this from his responses, Jack is the kind of person who can start a conversation with anyone and have them walking away feeling like they just made a new friend. Jack is a shining light of positivity, encouragement and fun on our team and I look forward to our engagements where I know he’ll be facilitating with me.
Even though Jack says he struggles with the very attribute he appreciates most in a leader, approachability, I can vouch from personal experience that he embodies it himself. When I first started participating as a coach in our Transformational Leadership Program™ (TLP), I shadowed Jack and one of his TLP coachees. I expected only to be a fly on the wall, but from the start, Jack encouraged me to participate in the calls, to write down my insights, to think about how I might lead the calls differently and to keep track of my questions out of each one. After each call ended, Jack and I would debrief and talk through all of those things and then he would involve me in reviewing the recap and follow up materials, too. Jack made himself completely accessible and I greatly appreciated knowing I could seek him out for help as I progressed.
How do you rank in approachability? Is this an area where you could improve? What other attributes do you appreciate in a leader? Share with us in the comments box below!