Meet a Local Leader: Scott DeSousa

Scott DeSousa, president of The Friedman Group

Scott DeSousa and his wife, Sue, have been married for 38 years. They have two children. His daughter Nicole Reittinger and her husband Reittinger have two boys, Coy and Gannon. His son Eric DeSousa and his wife Amber have one daughter, Masyn.

DeSousa has been with The Friedman Group for 20 years and has been president for the past two. He is a member of the board of directors of Assured Partners Great Plains Region. He is the vice president of the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Beckman Catholic Finance Committee.

He likes to fish, hunt and watch sports in his spare time.

Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?

I would name two people – my father Tony DeSousa and my mentor Terry Friedman. Both taught me that leadership is putting personal feelings aside and doing what is best for the organization.

What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization? Making sure that the organization has a plan for the future — trying and finding the talent to execute that plan. Also making sure we are there to support our associates and their families.

As an organization gets larger, there can be a tendency for the “institution” to dampen the “inspiration.” How do you keep this from happening? You must remind associates of our culture, how it was created during our 95-year history. Remind them of our core values: Integrity, knowledge, empathy, quality and pride.

Which is more important to your organization — mission, core values or vision? I think all three are important, the core values are your foundation what you build on. Without them you will fall apart in tough times. Your mission is what you strive to accomplish every day and without a vision you lack direction.

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess? Empathy, creating a caring culture. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Be a humble servant and show compassion.

What advice to you have for future leaders?

Surround yourself with great people. Make sure you challenge people and that you yourself are challenged. Listen to alternate opinions; look for diversity to help improve your organization.

What lessons can leaders take away from the current pandemic? We all need to be able to adapt to change, be nimble. The pandemic forced change that was inevitable in many situations. It caused change that might have occurred over years to happen over months. We all must accept change, embrace it and use it our advantage.

What are two or three of the best things about being a leader? Watching people grow and succeed in our organization. Knowing you might have had a small part in a company’s success and knowing you were able to help provide for our associates and their families.