This month, we would like to introduce you to Leon Janks of Green Hasson Janks, one of the longest-established independent firms on the west side of Los Angeles. Green Hasson Janks is listed as a top 20 accounting firm on the Los Angeles Business Journal’s Book of Lists and was recently named a 2013 “Best Places to Work” by the Los Angeles Business Journal.  As Managing Partner, Leon leads this 12 partner, 100 staff member firm that serves over 3,000 clients.

Leon is an exceptional leader, guiding Green Hasson Janks in its pursuit to collaborate with clients, grow great people, keep commitments and drive creative solutions.  We were fortunate to have Leon inspire our blog entitled Happiness Is this summer.  In this spotlight feature, Leon shares his insights on what it takes to lead and communicate effectively while reinforcing a culture of teamwork and innovation.

ConvergenceCoaching: Whose leadership style do you most admire and why?
LJ: I admire the leadership style of Winston Churchill.  He successfully led Britain in a time of great uncertainty.  He had an ability to instill confidence in people under adverse conditions.  In order to galvanize social change, he found an effective way to communicate during a time of limited communication - before Facebook or Twitter.  He walked through bombed-out streets alongside the people inspecting damages and fallout from the war.  I am inspired by his empathy for others, determination to lead, and ability to exude leadership in ominous circumstances.  I believe his actions delivered a positive message of “Keep calm and carry on.”

ConvergenceCoaching: What do you think the single most important leadership attribute or characteristic is and why?
LJ: The single most important leadership attribute is inspirational communication.  It is of the utmost importance to clearly articulate a vision and strategy that your colleagues can understand. I believe that over 50% of what is communicated is not heard, misunderstood, misinterpreted, ignored or misstated.   Instilling confidence, while giving clear direction, is essential for success.  Understanding core values and performance expectations is crucial for experienced leaders and up-and-coming leaders.  However, core values cannot be fully implemented unless there is an open line of communication.

ConvergenceCoaching: What do you look for in young up-and-coming leaders?
LJ: My top five attributes of up-and-coming leaders are:

  1. Strong entrepreneurial spirit
  2. Positive and forward thinking
  3. Inspirational
  4. Team Player
  5. Extraordinary interpersonal communication and listening skills

ConvergenceCoaching: How do you develop leadership in others?
LJ:  I develop leadership through mentoring and coaching.  You can empower others by delegating responsibility.  This encourages people to set goals and be accountable for their own success.  It is important to first recognize your strengths.  Then, you can “strengthen your strengths,” as opposed to decreasing your weaknesses. I call it a positive approach to self-transformation.  We still need to identify areas of distraction or minimize potential problem areas.   If you aim to “strengthen your strengths,” any weaknesses fade to the background, and the leader emerges in the foreground.

ConvergenceCoaching: What advice do you have for those looking to step into a leadership position in their firms or businesses?
LJ: You must focus and aspire to challenge yourself daily.  If you want to be a partner or managing director, you need to understand the role and take the action to play the role.  More specifically, you need to understand the destination, as well as look at the attributes and skills needed to get there.  You can then develop those attributes and skills and jump at the opportunity when it arrives.  There is always going to be some risk when you take on new challenges.  By accepting that you might fail, you are provided with a platform upon which to improve.  Taking responsibility for your mistakes builds confidence and expedites growth.

ConvergenceCoaching: What three words best describe your leadership style?
LJ: The type of leadership I value encompasses Communication, Inspiration and Collaboration. My leadership style is based on the context of culture.  My job is to empower and inspire my colleagues to meet objectives and goals.  I am passionate about the core values of my firm, and I encourage people to take on achievable challenges.  I believe in purposeful leadership.  My goal is to encourage visionary thinking, to foster growth in leadership and to inspire integrity.

Thank you to Leon Janks for reminding us just how important communication is. Without effective communication skills, it is nearly impossible to inspire, influence, collaborate, or contribute. What can you do to make sure that your messages are coming across like you want them to? Perhaps, it is simply a matter of taking a few extra moments to strategize and organize your thoughts before you address your team or your clients or before you make that phone call or compose an e-mail.

I am inspired to engage in more thoughtful communication after soaking in Leon’s insights and I hope that you are inspired to do so as well!

Best Regards,

Michelle Baca