I am happy to introduce John Pace as this month’s leadership spotlight. John is a partner in the outsourced accounting and advisory services department at Gelman, Rosenberg & Freedman CPAs in Bethesda, MD. John is also a graduate of our Transformational Leadership Program™ (TLP) and we’ve enjoyed working with him and his firm on various initiatives.

In his role, John oversees the full range of outsourced accounting and advisory services, review and compilation engagements and consulting and compliance for the firm’s nonprofit and for-profit government contractor clients. He also assists clients as a temporary controller/chief financial officer.

Here’s what John had to say about leadership:

ConvergenceCoaching: Whose leadership style do you most admire and why?
JP: It’s hard for me to pin down a particular individual, as I’ve been lucky enough to have exposure to some pretty good leaders throughout my career. I’ve found that I most admire leaders who take the time to consider options, are open to new ideas, lead in a way that is calm and consistent, are never disrespectful, who rarely/never act in anger, are open to other points of view, continually seek to better themselves, embrace technology, delegate where appropriate, and those leaders who are considerate of others.

ConvergenceCoaching: What do you think the single most important leadership attribute or characteristic is and why?
JP: I think the most important leadership attribute is empathy. Too often, I see people in leadership roles that create challenging environments for their team simply by not being in tune with the needs of their people. Empathy and compassion go a long way toward building a successful and cohesive team.

ConvergenceCoaching: What do you look for in young up-and-coming leaders?
JP: I think the most critical components for young leaders are great communication skills, empathy, and the willingness to accept change. Leaders that are set in their ways are bound to fail given the rapid pace of change in technology and public accounting overall.

ConvergenceCoaching: How do you develop leadership in others?
JP: Our firm has a mentor program which is working well.  On top of that, I tend to share a lot of the “why.” Anything from client acceptance and management, billing, marketing and business development, to overall firm and department strategy. The more that staff and future leaders know, the more I can get them involved and engaged. My hope is to empower my team as much as possible. I view it as a strategic mistake when you don’t harness the talents of your team. A leader shouldn’t go at it alone.

ConvergenceCoaching: What advice do you have for those looking to step into a leadership position in their firms or businesses?
JP: Always seek ways to improve yourself and never stop learning. Attend training, read books, be open to new ideas, be curious, be proactive. Reach out to your leadership and ask how you can be more involved. Ask your leaders why things are the way they are. This will help distinguish you as someone who cares about your organization and as someone who wants to help improve it.

ConvergenceCoaching: What three words best describe your leadership style?
JP: Easy going, empathetic, forward looking.

John references the importance of empathy throughout his responses and we couldn’t agree more. It’s one topic we cover with our TLP participants as they learn to be greater leaders in their firms. It can be easy to get caught up in day-to-day activities. It takes intentionality to focus on the needs of others and responding to those needs.

I also appreciated John’s reference to sharing the “why” with his people. The “why” might be obvious to you, but that doesn’t mean it is to others. Many people, especially your young talent, need help connecting the dots as to why your firm does what it does, how you make a difference for clients, why you personally chose to do what you do, why you approach client service the way you do and so much more. Share the “why” with others so that they can better relate and adopt it themselves.

How do you exhibit empathy with others? Do you think empathy can be learned? How about the “why” – how do you make sure to share the “why” with others? Share with us in the comments below!

Kind regards,