Ten Leaders to Know: Scott Peterson (Full Profile)

August 14, 2023 | Ten Leaders to Know



Birth City
Beresford, SD

Current City
Sioux Falls, SD

How did you get where you are today?

  • I have been fortunate during my career to work at great companies (both now and prior to Interstates)
  • I have worked with great teammates who helped me to learn, grow, and develop
  • I was open to new opportunities in new areas - I believe that was important
  • I ended up at Interstates in 1995, which has been a blessing
  • Interstates had a strong culture established. They had leaders who were passionate about the people and the clients.
  • I approached this as a way to lean in and figure out how I could make a difference within the culture that existed. I listened and learned from others as the company grew - and as I grew.
  • During the last half of my Interstates career, I have partnered with and learned from great leaders and team members who help Interstates grow. They live the Interstates Core (values, vision, why) and they can articulate it as a way to enhance our culture and make a difference with our clients.

What excites you the most about the business you work in?

  • Interstates has a rich history of adding new services and offerings as a way to solve problems for our clients. We will continue to do that in the next years by focusing on industrialization and digitization.
  • As we all know, we just went through a disruption with the pandemic and supply chain issues. We are set to have another disruption related to industrialization and digitization, and we have an opportunity to lead clients and the industry to successfully navigate those challenges and opportunities.
  • From our company perspective, we continue to grow and add great talent. Our culture keeps getting stronger because of our continual focus on investing in our people and providing opportunities for them. It's also because our people live out the Interstates Core.

What do you see as the next big trend in your industry?

  • Industrialization and digitization are the 2 big trends impacting our industry in the next several years.
  • Workforce constraints is another trend. There is still a shortage of talent and workforce for us and our clients. Whenever there is a big challenge, there is an opportunity. We know we can be more effective and productive thru automation and standardization. This will allow us to leverage our talents to focus on the things that add the most value and reduce tasks or activities things that are repetitive and can be done better or differently.

Where do you look for inspiration or to generate new ideas?

  • There are so many places to look! One way is to be active with our association memberships (like ABI), to find peer groups within our industry, attend speaker events, read books and articles, and listen to podcasts - there are some great options out there.
  • One thing that has a big impact is seeing our Interstates family's passion around our industry, solving our clients' problems, and they are always looking through the lens of pursuing a better way.
  • Seeing the way our team lives out our values and cares for each other also inspires me. They support each other and want everyone to know that they belong.

What does effective leadership mean to you?

  • Effective leadership is about leveraging the talent around you so that others can succeed.
  • Meeting people where they are at.
  • Leading people how they need to be led
  • Investing in them to help them grow and reach their potential.
  • A quote from Lao Tzu is one of my favorites: "A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves."

What is your favorite thing about Iowa?

  • Iowa has a broad and deep economy.
  • There are amazing people that are passionate about the land, about each other, and about education
  • Iowans have an awesome work ethic and are very grounded

What piece of advice would you give your younger self?

  • Leverage the concepts from "The Ideal Team Player" model from Patrick Lencioni's book
  • Be humble, smart, and hungry - while building individual resilience so you are prepared for good times and challenging times.
  • Be curious, not judgmental

Why are you a member of ABI?
ABI's focus aligns very well with Interstates' focus: creating a great business atmosphere, helping businesses grow and develop their workforce, and surrounding yourself with strong and progressive companies.

Who do you look to for mentorship?

  • I believe it's important to have a couple of formal mentors and several informal mentor relationships.
  • Informal mentoring could be through peer groups, leaders within your companies and within the industry
  • Formal mentoring usually provides a platform to really be inquisitive and vulnerable to help you navigate various opportunities and challenges - to ensure you have a realistic and optimistic perspective. They also help ID or mitigate potential blind spots.

As a business leader, what book would you recommend for personal or professional growth?

  • For people entering the workforce - The Ideal Team Player (Patrick Lencioni)
  • For executives - CEO Excellence (published by McKinsey)
  • For leaders interested in servant leadership - The World's Most Powerful Leadership Principle (James C. Hunter)