Developing & Fostering the Growth of Leadership


Travis Nipper, director of marketing and business development at Leadership Excelleration, Inc. (LEI), recently sat down with Mike Dektas, CFO of Miller-Valentine Group; Jason Praeter, president of entertainment & communications at Cincinnati Bell; and Paul Staubach, CEO of Foster & Motley to discuss leadership development, diversity and inclusion, and company culture.


TRAVIS NIPPER: Hello, Mike. Glad to have you with us today. How do you see yourself and others on the senior leadership team preparing and developing yourselves so you can meet the needs of your team/employees/clients?

MIKE DEKtAS: It’s tough. As you go up, there are fewer people above you in the day-to-day to learn from. One thing is, we challenge each other. But also, we have an outside advisory board that comes in specifically to get those different points of view. Sometimes you have to go out of your way to reach out to other leaders, sometimes outside of your own company or even outside of your industry to hear those points of view.


TRAVIS NIPPER: Thinking bigger, what can we learn from how Miller-Valentine is currently envisioning, or has envisioned, their strategic planning?

MIKE DEKtAS: I have definitely learned a lot through the process. I think we all did. The biggest thing that I think we, as a group learned, is to step out of your silo. We’re trying to take the approach of doing what’s best for the customer and the company as a whole, and taking a diagnostic view on what department that hits and working together. We all had to step out of our boxes to see that and say, “Keep thinking big picture.” It was pretty eye-opening for me.


TRAVIS NIPPER: Hello, Jason. I really appreciate having you here today. Leadership teams often identify areas for growth or unique challenges that may be barriers in performance. What are some success stories your team has had?

JASON PRAETER: Well, one of our biggest barriers was the perception that we are a regional, Midwest company. With our recent acquisitions and mergers, we’ve broken through a big barrier – for global companies to view us as something other than a great company in a small fishbowl.


TRAVIS NIPPER: Research shows that only about a quarter of organizations go through some sort of a formal Organizational Strategic Planning process to make important decisions. For an organization the size of Cincinnati Bell, can you give us a peek under the hood, so to speak, of that process?

JASON PRAETER: For our recent acquisitions, which were sizable, we had some outside counsel that would help us to at least start the process. We had help in laying the groundwork from that consulting team that came in. From a strategic planning standpoint, we have different levels inside of the company that actually go through training. In order to reach the director level, there is additional training and culture classes that really try to streamline the process for all of our directors to understand what is expected of them, which adds stability to the rest of the company.


TRAVIS NIPPER: Hello, Paul. Thank you for being here. How does your organization promote the professional growth and development of its employees?

PAUL STAUBACH: For professional development, we’re big on designations. We have 19 advisors that carry 35 designations. We have some individuals that have received their MBA while they’ve been at Foster & Motley. We encourage those things. We will pay for the programs that they’re in. We have a lot of smart people at Foster & Motley. I’m blessed to be surrounded by so many smart individuals. We want them to continue to keep up-to-date on current rules, regulations and trends within our industry. We want to be the brightest that we can be.


TRAVIS NIPPER: We all know a sustained sense of personal happiness enables leaders to maintain the positive emotional energy to inspire and nurture the best from their team. Share your thoughts on how leaders can assess their own purpose, passion, relationships and vision that contribute to wellbeing both at work and in life.

PAUL STAUBACH: The first thing is passion. I love working with clients. I really enjoy getting up and going to work each day. Having the ability to work with the client base that we have – I’ve been blessed. At work, I love what I do. But I also want to be involved in my family’s life, because you don’t get that time back. Having the ability with current technology to do some work at home allows me to be present at home. I have five kids. I was blessed to be active and present in their lives.


Miller-Valentine Group is located at 9349 Waterstone Blvd., #200, Cincinnati, OH 45249. For more information, call 513.774.8400 or visit

Cincinnati Bell is located at 221 E 4th St., Cincinnati, OH 45202. For more information, call 513.565.2210 or visit

Foster & Motley is located at 7755 Montgomery Road, #100, Cincinnati, OH 45236. For more information, call 513.561.6640 or visit

LEI is located at 5905 E Galbraith Road, Suite 1600 Cincinnati, OH 45236. For more information, call 513.677.0995 or visit