- Peter Costa
Will Bachman 00:01
Hello, and welcome to Unleashed the show that explores how to thrive as an independent professional. I’m your host Will Bachman. And I’m excited to be here today talking about leadership development with Pete Costa Umbrex member, and he is also the host of the podcast leading excellence. So take a minute right now just pause and go to iTunes, subscribe to leading excellence. And now that you’re back, Pete, welcome to the show.
Peter Costa 00:29
Thanks so much. Well, I’m thrilled to be here. Thanks for having me.
Will Bachman 00:31
So nice double meeting with your podcast title. Tell me a little bit about, you know, the double meaning their leading excellence?
Peter Costa 00:39
Sure, well, it’s it’s two related items. On my podcasts, I explore the concepts of leadership, both what makes an excellent leader, but also what it’s like to be a leader driving excellence in your organizations. And I do that by interviewing real world leaders of different organizations. And I asked them about kind of their journey, what they learned along the way, how they helped develop leaders in their organization, and just learn from that.
Will Bachman 01:13
Cool. So I’m interested to hear in a one on one on what we mean by leadership development. And before we start recording, I was telling you that, you know, I’ve had, you know, myself a range of experiences in life, you know, where I’ve got, you know, observed leaders, you know, hopefully developed to some degree as a leader, but I never had like formal saying, Okay, now we’re having a leadership development expert, you know, come in, you know, do leadership development training for you will, in the Navy, I got to observe my spirit officers, and they give me coaching and some direct feedback from time to time, and then McKinsey out to observe people, but never had leadership development program. So tell me a little bit about what a leadership development consultant would do.
Peter Costa 02:05
Sure. So well, in my practice, I do two particular areas that fall under the big umbrella of what I would call leadership development. So I do one on one coaching with with executives and rising talent, I also work with organizations to help them build out a comprehensive leadership development program, which, which may or may not include that kind of level of coaching, but would also include the kinds of things you’re talking about. And this is something that comes out a lot of people enter the podcast, that experience you had in the Navy, and I had the same one of having a chance to actually observe good leaders, and bad leaders, is very powerful. So organizations, churches, for example, can be purposeful about setting up opportunities for junior people, to watch how the decisions are made. How do leaders act? That’s one example of it. There can be formal training in different aspects of leadership and management, which is a different related concept. But more specifically, what I do with the coaching is try to help people understand who they really are, how they show up for others, and then how to use that to be as effective a leader as they can be. I’m not, I don’t believe that we need to go fundamentally change ourselves. I don’t believe there’s one good way to be a leader. I think we’ve all seen lots of people who do it in lots of different ways. So I don’t I don’t try to coach people to be something they’re not. But I do try to help them understand how to be better at what they do. And also pitfalls to look out for.
Will Bachman 03:51
How do clients get to the point and determine that we need to engage a leadership development consultant.
Peter Costa 04:03
In the cases where I’m brought in to do coaching, it’s generally they’ve got either a high potential that they both want to develop, but also, it’s a retention thing for them, right? The war for talent is fierce right now Has this ever been? We see that in the news all the time. employees, maybe more than anything else want to feel that they’re valued, and the company cares about the organization cares about that it’s broader than just companies. So making the investment in leadership development is a very tangible way to do that. So that that will be part of it. Sometimes it is, you’ve got a leader who’s been very successful up to a point, but they’re going to step into a new role which may require some new skills and helping them with that transition. That’s that’s some of the most interesting work because You’ll often find that what’s worked really well for the person in the past is going to get in the way going forward. So that’s where there’s a lot of hard self reflection and learning some new skills. But when you think about what these what these organizations can invest in these folks going up, it’s a pretty small effort to medic with a pretty big reward.
Will Bachman 05:26
It’s pretty difficult to change your own behavior. certainly know that. I mean, he tried to implement some very simple daily habits can be a lot of work. Talk to me about maybe give me some specific exercises you do, or, or specific aspects that you work on. So you mentioned before that you work with your clients, the one on one clients on kind of who they are and how they show up for others? Can Can we do like a double click on that and get into some specifics? Give me some case examples perhaps, or, or some, you know, some exercises or questions or things you’ll have people work on to illustrate that?
Peter Costa 06:07
Sure. You’re absolutely right, change is really hard. Again, my view is that we don’t fundamentally change who we are our values, the things that motivate and drive us really don’t change that much our personality, you know, whether we’re introverted or extroverted. We learn by reading or you know, more tactile, those things I think are pretty well ingrained, I don’t seek to change those things. But I do start and I think any change starts with kind of, you know, a deep understanding of what what the truth is. So use a variety of tools to raise that awareness. Whether it’s, you know, something, personality tests, like Myers Briggs, or disc or Hogan assessment are all quite good. 360s can be powerful. If they’re done well. I like to interview a bunch of folks ahead of time, I’ll bring all of this together, and then sit down with my client, and have a, you know, a good conversation about it. And a lot of it is about, hey, here’s your strengths, right? I am a believer that we should try to play to our strengths. But with all of our strengths, when they’re taken too far, they can become negatives, right? You may be an incredibly dynamic leader out from the front charging, and that is great in many situations. But sometimes that results in you’re running over people and them getting disenchanted. So being aware of that as a downside, and being aware of when that can come out, whether it’s in stressful situations, or maybe just the wrong setting is really important. So starting with that, and there’s a lot of effort into this and there’s absolutely no a lot of trust needs to be built before we get into that discussion. But it’s the foundation of what the work is going to be get past that get the person really bought into Okay, here are some things that I need to work on because they can get in the way of mine future success. And quite honestly, many of many of us are already aware of some of those things but they’re kind of tucked away back in our head we’re not aware of is just how limiting some of those behaviors can be. And then what I try to do is because we don’t change who we are, but we can change some of our behaviors, right? And even that is quite hard but I like to get to a point that’s very very practical in terms of changing how we show up so I’ll give you one example I know a person I worked with who pretty introverted no powerful leader, but he’s processing inside his head. So when he’s going out and walking around in the office he’s processing up in his head folks are seeing that and they’re taking that as hey there’s something going on here or he’s not coming across as more and more all those other things that many people wideout as leader that’s actual feedback that came out now is the person also showed up with through it he cared deeply about people just they weren’t proceeding that way. So very simple thing. Took a sticky pad. She was smiley face on it and put it on his doorway going out. Every time he walked out that door, he saw that thing and it reminded him to take a breath, smile and walk around and then that and then that grew into him getting more comfortable taking the time to just chat with folks and the rest of it. And people actually notice the difference. It was pretty powerful and a pretty simple thing for him to do.
Will Bachman 10:00
Do you have like a sort of a book or a set of exercises that you kind of pull from kind of bag of tricks that you’ll pull from to, you know, have people either reflect on or try things out? I’m curious about that, where, you know, maybe it’s less things that irritate you or less things that you, you know, childhood experiences where you felt a certain way, or we do kind of is curious about that aspect of coaching, if you if you have like this inventory of things that you’d pull off the shelf to use in certain situations?
Peter Costa 10:40
Yeah, good question. I certainly don’t have a one size fits all approach. And coaching is unique. And I, I got into coaching after about 30 years of being a leader myself, in the Navy and public companies and private, privately held companies. I thought coaching was just going to be kind of like mentoring, like, let me share all my wisdom with you. And after going through the training and seeing what actually worked and working with the coach myself, I learned the real power of it is more in asking the right questions and reflecting back what you observed. help the person get to what’s right for them. Right? Because what’s it like we were working together? My experiences may be helpful, or maybe not. But I don’t know necessarily what’s right for you? Well, I can tell you what was right for me in that situation. But you’re a different person. And it may be a slightly different situation, that won’t be right. So I don’t jump right to the Okay, you’ve explained the the issue, here’s the three things you can go try to do. What I do have is a broad set of experiences and references in the rest of it that I would go to. So you know, for example, prior company I worked at, we had a lot of people in leadership roles, who lacked some basic management skills. They’ve never been exposed to this stuff. So they hadn’t learned it. So I went back to some time as classics like Peter Drucker, who has some great stuff about his time management, here’s how the executive should spend their time, or how they should free it up very practical advice specifically for that. But I don’t go through I don’t I don’t come into any relation. So here’s your required reading list before we move forward.
Will Bachman 12:32
Got it. Beyond the one on one coaching, tell me more. Beyond that, what else does a typical leadership development program include? So if we hear that, oh, company XYZ is now decided to spend money on a leadership development program? What are typically all the elements of that.
Peter Costa 12:54
So the best leadership development programs I’ve seen, are really quite comprehensive. They’re purposeful, they’re part of the management operating system. So pretty much any organization is going to have some kind of, you know, annual performance review or something like that. Good companies make most of that discussion, a chance to talk about in a broad audience, who are the rising talents? And pretty far down into the organization? And what do they need to do to continue to stretch and to feel valued here? Not that, you know, they shouldn’t care about all the folks in your organization. But there is going to be a specific focus and slating of some of the key talents. So what does that look like? And, you know, it can be things like, okay, they need this experience, where can they go find that role? Let’s get them on that. They need this specific course, or maybe they need an executive coach. So there’s a purposeful thing right in that process. And there’s a follow up process. And this is all tied into the management operating system. And the senior leader takes an active active role in these things. So that’s part of that. There’s a lot of cultural things also. And a lot of this came on my podcast organizations that do this, well let people into the room. Right. So if it’s a discussion, that’s not overly sensitive, maybe it’s HR, you know, overly sensitive things like HR matters, or maybe m&a or things like that. Don’t letting Junior folks come into the room at a minimum to observe. But if that Junior folk has been part of a team that prepared a report or recommendation, good organizations and good leaders, let those people present it. Now it’s apparent for us so it goes well, but they give them those experiences. Good leadership development organizations have a culture where people share people, they’re more interested, they’ve got a common goal of making their people better. So they’re willing to give up their best person to go to another. Another assignment where they can get stretched and developed from that. So those are some of the astrophysics of just some aspects of what a good leadership development program can look at organization. Many times, there’s also going to be some formal training of some sort that’s done in house. In past place. Well, I talked a little bit about when I was helping that one organization develop just specific management skills. And that literally got to the point of running, calls every other week to talk about the basics of, here’s a balance sheet. And here’s why it matters. Because, again, they’ve never been exposed to that. So it can be also almost classroom training. So there’s a whole range of things that go into it. But I think it does start with having a purposeful approach to it that is driven by leadership, and then you fill in what works after that.
Will Bachman 16:04
Now on your podcast, you interview leaders and, you know, to understand their journey to how they, you know, gain leadership skills, what are some of the insights or things that surprised you that you’ve that you’ve heard, and learned by, by by hosting a show?
Peter Costa 16:22
Yeah, there’s been a couple great ones. I think the biggest one is, there’s no one right path to leadership. You know, if you’re interested in the big role, at some point, you don’t have to, there isn’t like this, check the box, you must do all these things. All the people I’ve interviewed, got to where they got to, by following what they were passionate about following their interests and jumping it opportunities as they came along, if they move in the right direction, and so you know, that could be somebody who’s got very limited financial training, take a CFO role. That’s kind of scary, it’s risky. But they’re interested in it, and it was a chance to learn, so they jumped into it, it could be stepping out of the line management role to go do a functional role, because it was going to give you the the experience of how the organization works. So you’re ready, when you take over for that. I mean, the Navy was also good about this in terms of moving folks around from position to position. So when you do finally get to be the head of a ship, you’ve seen all aspects of running the ship. So you’ve got a basic understanding of it. So that that is a big one is there’s no one path, follow your interests. The second big one is how many folks thought they were heading in one direction. And something would happen. And they redefined what they wanted to, and that that’s when usually their careers took off. I think some of the best conversations in the podcasts are when folks fold out. You know, they thought they knew what they wanted to do. Something failed. And it caught them to realize that, hey, this isn’t actually what I want to do. Sometimes it’s, hey, this is what I want to do. And I brush myself off and go back after it. But some of the really neat ones where this isn’t what I want to do with my wife, and I need to re examine it. And, and then they find their passion and they run after it. That’s a scary thing too, though, to let go of everything up into that point. So those really neat parts of the conversation. And then there’s just a wealth of good ideas, some of which I’ve already talked about, about how they built excellence in their organizations and how they develop their younger leaders.
Will Bachman 18:46
How have you developed your own practice in terms of the client development side of, of, you know, building awareness, and so forth. For some other types of, you know, consulting, it might be slightly different, but leadership development, there’s kind of, it’s a field where lots of people could call themselves experts in that. So how have you gone about, you know, developing your your clients?
Peter Costa 19:12
Sure. And that’s, that’s the challenge that we all have. I’ve got two clients streams, one is the corporations where I’ll be working with them on their corporate leaders. I also do private coaching as well, which will sometimes touch on leadership, but it actually gets a lot more into people just trying to pick, going through some major changes in your life, career changes, often helping them through that. Let me set that aside. Let me talk about the corporate side of it. It’s tons of networking. I’m very lucky that in my 30 years of operational leadership, I got to work in a lot of great organizations and make a lot of really strong relationships and you I think one of the most enjoyable parts about going from being Line management roll into working for myself was, all of a sudden, a big part of my job was getting back in touch with people from a year ago, and five years ago, and even 30 years ago and reconnecting. That was a tremendous fun, and you know, most of those, it’s just a great chance to catch up. And sometimes something comes up. I’m also and I need to be better about this, I also find that trying to keep a presence on social media, for me, that’s LinkedIn is helpful. I got one. One great client, simply because I had posted it with my one year anniversary of founding my company. And it just so happened, that he come out of a meeting prior to that saying, hey, we’ve got a talent that we really want to invest in. So it was just being there and being top of mind for him. So those are the two main kind of the main areas where I developed a practice. The good thing is, you know, the type of work that I do, you go in and you do a good job. People will see the change in the person you work with. And they ask you to come back and do some more. So the the trick right now is building up that kind of that stable of organizations to work with.
Will Bachman 21:19
Fantastic Well, we can include a link to your podcast in the show notes, so people want to check it out. Any other links that we should include or if info for people that want to follow up with up?
Peter Costa 21:34
Sure I’ll share the link to my website, cat mandible, cat men llc.com, where you can get an overview of all the services I offer a little bit more about me and some, some references of the work that I’ve done. And it can also contact me at Peter Costa at cap men llc.com.
Will Bachman 21:57
Fantastic. We’ll include that info in the show notes. Pete, it was great having you on the show today. Thanks so much for joining.
Peter Costa 22:04
Thank you Well, I really appreciate the chance to talk with you and share some of these thoughts.