Honoring the Service: Strategic HR Leadership and Engagement Strategies to Build Elite Teams

with Courtney Peterson, Chief HR Officer at Edison Electric Institute


Interview by CT Leong, Host of the HR Impact Show podcast.

Interview Key Takeaways

  • Employee engagement starts with organizations clearly stating and demonstrating their values and creating positive work environments.

  • Leaders should build relationships, understand the mission and work of the organization, and be listeners and partners to employees.

  • Coaching conversations should focus on setting clear goals, understanding the current reality, exploring options, and defining the way forward.

  • The GROW coaching model (Goals, Reality, Options, Way Forward) is a useful framework for coaching conversations.

In this episode, CT Leong interviews Courtney Peterson, the Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer, and Chief HR Officer at Edison Electric Institute, who brings invaluable insights into building elite teams through strategic leadership and engagement.


Strategic Overview of Edison Electric Institute (EEI)

EEI, headquartered in Washington, D.C., represents U.S. investor-owned electric companies leading the clean energy transition.

Courtney shares EEI's mission, emphasizing the association's role in shaping public policy and fostering industry collaboration. This context underscores the importance of strategic HR leadership in driving industry-wide change and innovation.


The Evolution of Diversity, Inclusion, and Strategic HR Practices

Reflecting on two decades of progress, Courtney discusses how diversity and inclusion conversations have matured, emphasizing the strategic role of HR in facilitating these discussions.

The transition from mere representation to focusing on intersectionality, equity, and belonging illustrates the shift towards comprehensive HR leadership strategies in fostering inclusive workplaces.


Dual Roles: Championing Diversity and Strategic HR Leadership at EEI

Courtney's unique position as both Chief Diversity Officer and Chief HR Officer enables her to spearhead diversity initiatives while enhancing HR leadership training programs.

She underscores the significance of strategic HR leadership in understanding employee challenges and cultivating an equitable, inclusive culture. This dual role exemplifies the synergy between diversity and HR practices in achieving organizational excellence.


Employee Engagement Strategies for Elite Team Building

Courtney highlights innovative employee engagement strategies critical for nurturing a positive work environment and elite teams. She advocates for creating employee experiences that resonate with organizational values, emphasizing the strategic role of HR leaders in facilitating feedback, active listening, and tailored support.

Integrating these strategies is vital for HR professionals aiming to elevate engagement and team performance.


"What employees, what talent is looking for are positive work environment. They want to work in places where trust and operation are a key part of what's happening in the workplace."

Courtney Peterson


Leveraging Leadership Competencies in HR Strategy

Addressing the selection of effective leaders, Courtney points out the dilemma between choosing technically skilled individuals and those with a strong people focus. She suggests strategic HR leadership solutions, like co-leadership models, to harness the strengths of diverse talents.

This approach aligns with advanced HR leadership training programs that prepare HR professionals to make informed decisions in leadership selection, enhancing team dynamics and engagement.


The Influence of Strategic HR Leadership in Decision-Making

Courtney discusses the impact of strategic HR leadership in shaping organizational policies and practices. Her emphasis on building trust, credibility, and informed decision-making illuminates the role of HR leaders in navigating complex workplace dynamics and advocating for employee well-being.


Coaching: A Pillar of HR Leadership Training

The GROW coaching model Courtney describes illustrates an effective framework for HR leadership training, fostering a culture of empowerment and self-direction. This coaching mindset is integral to strategic HR leadership, enabling HR professionals to guide employees and leaders toward achieving their fullest potential.


The Art and Science of Strategic HR Leadership

Courtney concludes by highlighting the balance between the analytical and intuitive aspects of HR leadership. She calls for HR professionals to embrace continuous learning and adaptability, essential traits for thriving in the evolving landscape of workforce management.


Conclusion and Forward-Looking Strategies in HR

Courtney Peterson's insights emphasize the pivotal role of strategic HR leadership, HR leadership training, and innovative employee engagement strategies in shaping the future of work.

As HR professionals, embracing these strategies will be crucial in building inclusive, high-performing teams capable of navigating the challenges of a dynamic business environment.


"Feedback conversations are really important to help drive employee engagement."

Courtney Peterson


Note: Based on a conversation with Courtney Peterson on the HR Impact Show, this article emphasizes the importance of employee engagement and strategic leadership in building elite teams.



Courtney Peterson 

Chief HR Officer at Edison Electric Institute




Courtney A. Peterson, Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer, and Chief Human Resources Officer at Edison Electric Institute (EEI), is a visionary executive known for her expertise in complex organizational environments. At EEI, she leads engagement with chief human resources officers and chief diversity officers across member companies, fostering significant advancements in EEI’s business and supplier diversity program. Dedicated to cultivating a positive workplace culture, Courtney emphasizes inclusive leadership and equitable policies. As a faculty member at Georgetown University, she shapes future leaders in Human Resources and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.

Courtney serves on the SHRM Foundation board, focusing on inclusive workplaces and mental health initiatives. Recognized as a Professional Certified Coach, she has contributed over 500 hours to coaching through Lotus Leadership Coaching. Honored by Savoy Magazine as a "Most Influential Executive in Diversity & Inclusion," Courtney is driven by transformation, inclusivity, and leadership excellence.


Connect with Courtney on LinkedIn



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