About Lee Ellis and Team

About Lee Ellis

Nationally-Recognized Leadership Coach, Award-Winning Author, Certified Speaking Professional* (CSP), and USAF Colonel (Ret)


Lee Ellis is President and founder of Leading with Honor®, a leadership and team development training and coaching company, and FreedomStar Media®, a publishing company that provides leadership resources and training. A popular media personality and high-profile human performance expert, Lee focuses on organizational integrity, operational effectiveness and personal accountability for enterprise, government and not-for-profit leaders. His prior experience was as a founding partner and senior vice president of a leadership assessment and human capital management consulting company headquartered in Atlanta, GA. For over 20 years, he has served as an executive coach and a corporate trainer in the areas of hiring, teambuilding, leadership, human performance development, and succession planning. His approach to maximizing leadership performance has been implemented by Fortune 500 clients, senior executives and C-Level leaders in telecommunications, healthcare, insurance, energy, IT, automotive, military, and not-for-profit sectors.


As the Director of Career/Life Pathways from 1990 – 1998, Lee led the development team that researched, developed, and validated Career Direct®, a vocational assessment package and two personality assessments with software applications. From 1998 – 2008, he was responsible for product development of three more behavioral and leadership assessments as well as the launch and Internet deployment of these resources. Most recently, he has developed and released his latest assessment tool, the Leadership Behavior DNA® Discovery Process (formerly N8Traits® Profile). In total, these assessments have been used worldwide by more than 200,000 individuals and are the instrument of choice in many organizations, including Fortune 500 companies and nationally recognized not-for-profits. Lee’s point-of-view on maximizing leadership performance and organizational leadership during crisis is framed by his extensive research and experience in the assessment of human behavior.


A prolific writer, blogger and thought leader, Lee’s latest book is entitled Leadership Behavior DNA: Discovering Natural Talent and Managing Differences. His last two award-winning books, Leading with Honor®: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton and Engage with Honor™: Building a Culture of Courageous Accountability, share his POW experiences and the leadership principles that helped him and his compatriots resist, survive, and return with honor. Additionally, Lee co-authored three books and workbooks on career planning. He is a nationally-recognized Certified Speaking Professional* (CSP) and expert on the subjects of leadership and performance, team building, mentoring, and career planning. Some of his appearances include interviews on networks such as CNN, CBS This Morning, C-SPAN, ABC World News, Fox News Channel, plus hundreds of engagements in various industry sectors throughout the world.


Lee holds a B.A. degree in History from the University of Georgia and a M.S. degree in Counseling and Human Development from Troy University in Alabama. He is a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College and the Air War College. Lee supervised, educated, and trained officers for the last 17 years of his Air Force career. He served as the Vice Commandant of the Squadron Officer School, the Air Force’s leadership school for captains. He completed his Air Force career as Professor of Aerospace Studies and Commander of Air Force ROTC at the University of Georgia. More recently he has developed and presented leadership curricula in numerous organizations including Fortune 500 companies, and major sectors of the Department of the Defense focusing on management performance, leadership accountability and principle-based management strategies.


A native of Commerce, Georgia, Lee graduated from the University of Georgia in 1965 and began a career in the Air Force. During the Vietnam War, Lee’s aircraft was shot down over enemy territory and he was held as a POW in various prisons in the Hanoi area for over five years. As a military officer, his experiences as a POW piqued his interest in leadership performance in difficult situations, leading to further research and academic pursuit in the area of measuring and optimizing human performance and leadership effectiveness. After repatriation he returned to flying duties with increasing positions of leadership. Rising to the rank of colonel before retirement, Lee’s assignments included duty as a pilot, flight instructor, staff officer, chief of flight standardization and evaluation, flying squadron commander, and supervisor in higher education. He was awarded two Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with Valor device, the Purple Heart, the Air Medal with eight Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Prisoner of War Medal for his service in Vietnam. In addition, he was awarded four Air Force Commendation Medals and four Meritorious Service Medals for performance excellence. Lee is also a 2014 inductee into the Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame and the 2015 DAR Medal of Honor Recipient for a lifetime of patriotic service as a military officer and spokesman for leading with honor.

Personal: Lee and his wife Mary have four grown children and six grandchildren. They reside in the metro area of Atlanta, GA.

* The Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation involves a rigorous 5-10 year certification process. It is the highest speaking designation in the industry, and only 1.5% of speakers worldwide can claim this special title. Learn more at

Our Coaching and Training Team

Leadership Behavior DNA

We have a team of experienced coaches and trainers that have committed to align with the principles and processes of Leading with Honor. They are also certified training professionals for Leadership Behavior DNA™ Services.

Brian Ferguson

Coach / Trainer

Brian’s focus is on developing leadership and influence skills for individuals and teams in many capacities, including strategic thinking, delegation, accountability, conflict resolution and organizational culture development. As a Lt Colonel in the Air Force Reserves (C-130 Pilot and commander) he brings a unique perspective, especially with motivating and managing leaders and teams in high stress environments.

Brian has a BBA from the University of Georgia and is a graduate of the Core Essential Program of Coach University, an International Coach Federation Accredited Coach Training Program.

Leadership Behavior DNA Style Group – Adapter
Three Strongest Natural Traits –– Anchored, Pioneer, Risk-Taker

Robert Kirton

Coach / Trainer

Dr. Robert L. Kirton has served for more than three decades as a Chief Education Officer, Area Superintendent, Executive Director of Career and Technology, Principal, Coach, and Teacher. Currently, he is a Distinguished Post Graduate Professor at South Carolina State University in the Department of Educational Leadership. He is also the founder of the Brotherhood of Achievers Determined and Dedicated aka “The Brotherhood.”

As an author, coach, motivational speaker, trained leadership and teambuilding facilitator, Licensed Contractor and Master Craftsman, he is results-driven and committed to assisting government, educational institutions, and all organizations to increase achievement and success. His certifications include expertise in Leadership and Team Building Facilitation, Project Adventure, Motivational Counseling and Behavioral Intervention, and Ripple Effects.

Dr. Kirton has a Doctor of Education in Educational Administration, Educational Specialist in Educational Administration, and Special Cognate in Special Education Administration, South Carolina State University; Master of Education in Educational Administration and Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies, University of South Carolina.

Leadership Behavior DNA Style Group – Initiator
Three Strongest Natural Traits – Creative, Risk-Taker, Fast-Paced

Raellyn Kovich

Coach / Trainer

Raellyn Kovich is a business leader and talent management coach and trainer having served in Fortune 100 corporations, non-profits and small businesses for almost ten years. Her experience spans leadership positions in communications, change management and organizational alignment, as well as marketing, strategic planning, and leadership development. In addition, she was responsible for developing an internal mentoring program with the United States Army and members of the civilian Senior Executive Service corps.

Ms. Kovich received a Bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University in Ohio and an MBA from Kennesaw State University with a concentration in leadership studies, in addition to a graduate certificate in Managerial Coaching from Kennesaw State University.

Leadership Behavior DNA Style Group – Initiator
Three Strongest Natural Traits – Take Charge, Creative, Reserved

John Purcell

Coach / Trainer

As a seasoned coach/trainer, author, and speaker, John’s focus is on leadership growth, primarily at the CEO/Executive level, team building of executive staff, boards, and health care teams, strategic planning and execution, and creating a culture of coaching leaders. His past experience includes 18 years with a Fortune 100 company in sales and as a general manager in manufacturing and materials including 13 years with responsibility for 4 businesses and 800 employees. As COO of a large non-profit organization he oversaw planning and execution, growing it from a staff of 40 to a staff of 200 with over 4000 volunteers.

John has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati, and a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Lewis and Clark College, Portland OR. He lives in the Atlanta, GA metro area.

Leadership Behavior DNA Style Group – Influencer
Three Strongest Natural Traits – Risk-Taker, Fast-Paced, Pioneer

Laurie Rose

Coach / Trainer

Laurie is a dynamic and engaging bilingual facilitator, trainer and coach, whose energy and sense of humor characterize her workshops and coaching sessions. With more than seventeen years of experience in designing and delivering experiential learning events, Laurie is known for her wit, warmth, and hands-on, practical approach. She combines theory and practice to ensure that learning takes place on both an intellectual and an emotional level. For over six years she has been successfully coaching individuals on a wide range of personal and professional development issues.

Laurie’s educational background includes a Certificate in Adult Education from St. Francis Xavier University and a Master’s degree in Human Systems Intervention (organizational development) from Concordia University. She has also completed the Personal and Professional Coach Certification program at Concordia.

Leadership Behavior DNA Style Group – Strategist
Three Strongest Natural Traits – Take Charge, Skeptical, Reserved

Eddie Williams

Coach / Trainer

For over 14 years, Eddie conducts high content presentations on such topics as Communication, Effective Listening, Time Management, Coaching, Motivation, Leadership, Stress Management, Emotional Intelligence, Team Building, Resiliency, Self-Esteem, and others. Eddie’s keynotes and workshops are motivational in style and tone, while adding value, and allow each participant to implement his insights immediately.

Some of his clients include; AFLAC, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Sherwin-Williams, FedEx, MetLife, US Department of Labor, Waste Management, Marriott, The Coca-Cola Company, The FAA, The CDC, numerous School Systems, many civic organizations, and industry specific associations across the country.

Eddie is a West Point graduate, U.S. Army Veteran, and former Airborne, Ranger, and Green Beret. After leaving the military, he has held positions of increased responsibility in Sales, Marketing and Management. Eddie also holds an MBA from Kennesaw State University.

Leadership Behavior DNA Style Group – Engager
Three Strongest Natural Traits – Outgoing, Spontaneous, Trusting