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7 Questions on Leadership with Peter Mahmood

Name: Peter Mahmood

Title: Military Relations Manager

Organisation: Cox Enterprises

Peter Mahmood is a retired US Army Officer with 24 years active-duty service. Peter is currently the Military Relations Manager for Programs and Partnerships at Cox Enterprises. Peter is responsible for the oversight of Military partnerships and Military recruiting programs for Cox Enterprises, and the Cox family of brands, including Cox Communications and Cox Automotive. Peter drives recruiting at (25) Military base partners, and over a dozen Veteran Service Organizations, to support the Cox Enterprises strategy of hiring transitioning Service Members, Veterans, and Military Spouses. Peter has developed outreach programs for the Military, Veteran, and Military Spouse communities, and he serves as a Brand Advocate for Cox Enterprises, leading initiatives in social media, Veteran focused podcasts etc. Peter has led Military recruiting at Cox since March 2022.

Prior to joining Cox Enterprises, Peter led three Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) high school programs in Broward County, Florida, over his 10 years following Military service, as a Senior Army Instructor. Peter also served as a Department Head, with oversight of elective programs at these institutions. Peter has coached and mentored hundreds of young men and women, from diverse backgrounds, to strive for success in their university studies, and their careers after high school. During his Army career, Peter was assigned as a Recruiting Company Commander, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he led over 50 Active duty and Army Reserve recruiters. Peter’s company was recognized as one of the top five recruiting companies in the western United States region, for two consecutive years.

Peter holds a bachelor’s degree in human resources from Saint Leo University, Florida, a master’s degree in health administration (MHA) from Webster University, and a master’s degree in leadership studies (MA) from the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP). Peter is also fitness focused, and is a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT), and Certified Nutrition Coach (CNC), with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Peter's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

What I have found most challenging as a leader is change. As a leader you are always adjusting to changes in the command structure of your organization, changes in your experience level, and changes in your job title, and number of subordinates. In the military, change of command is constant. I have adapted to new leadership styles when I served under new leaders. When I have taken charge of organizations, I adapted to new personnel, new goals, new strategies, and new markets. The challenge is to always remain consistent with your own performance, and deliver leadership in your own style, that aligns to any situation.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I became a leader after my graduation from Officer Candidate School (OCS), and my assignment as a Platoon Leader in the US Army. I had leadership experience prior to my assignment as a Lieutenant, but my leadership grew as an officer. It was a challenging time in the Army, as I led my platoon after the events of September 11, 2001. I led my soldiers in the 1st Cavalry Division in Texas. I learned as a Platoon Leader that I was responsible for not only the leadership strategy for success, but also responsible for the training, and personal growth of my team. I had to lead my team in technical skills and assist them in developing family care plans and financial goals, to ensure their overall success and stability. My assignment was very rewarding, and I attribute that assignment to building my leadership style.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I start my day early, around 6am, to spend time with my family and dogs before work. I exercise with my younger daughter before she gets ready for school, then I take my three dogs for their morning walk. I chat with my older daughter before she goes to her college classes and then start my day. I work remotely from my home office, so I am constantly engaging with clients. At 7am I review emails, and plan my phone calls, and video conferences for the day. During the day, I engage with my Cox Enterprises teammates, and confer with our Military Base partners. Mid-day, I take an important break to refocus, and then dive into my afternoon meetings. My end of day can be 5pm or later, then I head to the local gym for my evening workout. Physical and mental fitness are an important part of maintaining yourself as a leader. My evening workouts help me process workday events. I have dinner with my family, read a few chapters, or check a few emails, before going to sleep.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

I was recently reminded of a leadership lesson, know yourself and your team’s goals. This year, I was elevated to a new position, with a larger scope and more responsibility. It is important to evaluate situations and strategy for the first 30-60 days as a leader, before making direct changes. In my new role, I first had to assess what direction the organization was headed, and what impact I should make to the direction. It is important to have discussions with your peers, leaders, and partners, and then after you evaluate, choose the best approach that meets the organizations’ goals.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

One book that has had a profound impact on my leadership is “It Worked for Me” by retired General, and former Secretary of State, Colin Powell. His Thirteen Rules, listed in this insightful book, are a blueprint for leadership. Rule #9 “Share credit”, General Powell encourages the practice of praising in public those team members who were instrumental to your success. Rule #13 is my favorite, and a leadership must do! “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier”, General Powell talks about believing in your actions, and having the strength of conviction to always remain positive. This book was a great read, and I used General Powell’s book as a textbook for teaching leadership to my cadets in high school.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

My advice to a young leader is that you should assess your subordinates with two criteria if they are struggling with a task. The two criteria are, 1) they don’t understand, or 2) they are not motivated. If not understanding the task is the problem, you can help by providing training and explaining the task. If they are not motivated, you can provide encouragement, motivation, or purpose to the task.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

One meaningful story comes from my time as an Army Recruiting Commander. I assumed responsibility for a company that was struggling to achieve their recruiting mission. The morale of the recruiters was low, and basic procedures, interviews, and follow-up meetings were not being conducted. My approach to the team was to first improve morale. In the first week, I instituted team building activities to connect strong recruiters with those that needed support. I empowered junior leaders to use alternate interviewing strategies and conduct partner-assisted meetings. Over the next few months, our recruiting mission vastly improved. We ended the year as one of the top recruiting companies in the region. Leadership works if you train and empower the talent around you.

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