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How Getting Fired Inspired Lee Eisenstaedt To Create His Super-Successful Leadership Company

Ten years after he was fired from his last corporate job, Lee Eisenstaedt is living the American Dream leading his own company – and teaching others to find the leaders in themselves.

Business has never been better for Eisenstaedt, whose his fourth book came out at the end of June 2019.


The book, Leading With Courage: Nine Critical Behaviors of Effective Leaders and Managers, was published in June 2019 and focuses on lessons learned from 40 top CEOs Eisenstaedt interviewed. Those leaders include Ed Wehmer, founder of Wintrust; Craig Duchossois, CEO of the Duchossois Group; Paul Darley, CEO and President of W.S. Darley & Co.; Bryan Schwartz, President of Trim-Tex; Christine Robins, President & CEO of Char-Broil LLC; and Gay Gaddis, Founder and CEO of T3.


“This is about experiences that I’ve had and others have had that helped us get where we’ve gotten to,” said Eisenstaedt, who is founder of Chicago-based Leading With Courage Academy, which he’s led for the last four years, after a six-year successful run as a founding partner of L. Harris Partners.

The book also contains a foreword from Jon Vegosen, Past Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of the United States Tennis Association, that notes: "For those who aspire to broader, more complex roles, the insights and proven tools and processes Lee shares in his book, and through the Leading With Courage Academy, can reduce the stress of our individual journeys and increase the likelihood we will succeed. Perhaps more importantly, they can enhance our self-awareness.”


Leading With Courage Academy facilitates leadership assessments, workshops and coaching programs that help individuals and teams be more effective leaders by:

  • Measuring and improving employee engagement following the signing of a buy-side M&A transaction that involves the integration of two cultures.

  • Establishing a culture of ownership in organizations with an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP)

  • Unlocking the full potential of leaders and managers as a result of becoming more self-aware of their leadership blind spots such as delegation, identifying their high-performing team and emotional intelligence .

  • Increasing productivity, communication and teamwork through the intentional and consistent forging, strengthening, or saving of relationships among employees and customers.


LWCA helps all types of clients and is currently focusing on employee-owned companies. Eisenstaedt has been helping Trim-Tex, a manufacturer of vinyl drywall beads and accessories, take its sales department to even higher levels of self-awareness, communication, teamwork and productivity with Everything DiSC.  Over the past two years, LWCA has helped members of the Performance Excellence Network, an organization based in Minneapolis whose purpose is inspiring, advancing, and sustaining performance excellence, make more significant impacts as leaders and managers with a series of workshops.  And it has been assisting the leaders of Clarion Construction, regarded as one of Chicago’s premier interior general contractors, measure and further improve upon its already high levels of employee engagement and self-awareness.


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“I enjoy being a business owner, and I do it because I like seeing the difference I make in people’s lives, which is often described by clients as peace of mind and confidence,” said Eisenstaedt, who lives in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood.


Eisenstaedt earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania and an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. He spent more than 30 years in the corporate world, including more than 20 years at SC Johnson & Son, and held senior finance and operations positions in Racine, Wisconsin; Cookeville, Tennessee; and twice in Paris, France.


His last corporate job was as Chief Operating Officer for the Upper Midwest Economic Unit for RSM McGladrey, Inc., but his job was eliminated when he was 54 years old after the Top 5 CPA firm had brought in a new managing partner.


“I started looking for a job, but when you’re 54, there aren’t a lot of opportunities.  While I had some success in the market, I didn’t want to move with my wife [Elizabeth] again only to possibly try finding another job in 2-3 years,” Eisenstaedt said.


So after a three-month job search, Eisenstaedt started his own company, and he’s never looked back.


“I thrived in the corporate environments, but I just got to a certain age where I didn’t think I could make a successful reentry into it,” Eisenstaedt said. “But I found that I was a really good right hand to company owners.”


His book is the latest step in Eisenstaedt’s growth as a business owner, and a way to make others aware of their shortcomings in a productive way.


“We all think we’re self aware, and that we don’t have any blind spots, but when you have the courage to discover and deal with those blind spots, that’s when great things happen,” Eisenstaedt said.


For more information on Leading With Courage Academy, visit

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