In a Harris Bank training room surrounded by bored management trainees, 22-year-old Patty Campagna sat on the edge of her seat, completely engrossed.
“I was in these awesome, high-level management training classes, eating it all up,” she remembers. “I was so excited to be in these classes . . . but I would look around the room and realize that everyone else couldn’t wait to get back to their desk to work. They thought all this touchy-feely management training stuff was a waste of their time.”
Campagna, fresh out of college with her degree in business marketing, was being groomed to be a leader in Harris Bank’s operations department. Although her path eventually diverged from the bank, her excitement about leadership training never faded. Years later, she found the right audience, who understood—who needed—her passion for the “touchy-feely stuff.”
Who are they? They are the leaders of small, growing businesses.
Who is she now? She’s an executive coach, team facilitator, forum trainer, and owner of Leading Teams. In the words of one of her clients, Max Callahan, EO Chicago member and cofounder of Siegel & Callahan PC, “Patty is a brilliant facilitator with a dynamic and deeply empathetic style. She has an ability to make immediate and powerful connections with each individual in the groups she leads and an encyclopedic understanding of the issues that can block talented and driven individuals or companies from reaching their business goals.
“Patty wastes no time and is astonishingly gifted at getting down to the most critical issues that can block success,” he continues. “She equips the individuals and forums she coaches with the strategies, tools, and insights they need to achieve immediate and lasting forward movement in both their businesses and personal lives.”
“Splatty” Patty: The Early Years
The classes at Harris Bank weren’t Campagna’s first foray into leadership training. In junior high, she served as the secretary of her student council, which meant she was sent to Leadership Camp.
“It sounded lame, but actually was one of the most amazing experiences of my life,” she says. “I started learning about myself, my leadership abilities, and group dynamics—at the age of 12.”
Her camp name became “Splatty,” and she returned to that Leadership Camp each summer. In high school, she became a junior camp counselor. In college, she was asked to return as an adult counselor/instructor, a role she continued through most years of her adult life.
“The concepts that I learned at Leadership Camp are just naturally a part of me now,” she explains. “It’s what I do and who I am. It’s my WHY. I want to help others unleash their individual and collective potential so that we can all work with more joy and connection in life.”
The Path to Leading Teams
In 1998, Campagna found an opportunity to increase her impact with Martiz Travel Company. At Harris Bank, she had been managing a team of 20 people. With Martiz Travel, she was leading a different team of travel directors for Fortune 100 companies every week and working as the on-site lead for their event.
“Someone else had planned the event, and we were running it,” she explains. “Whether that meant managing their hotel rooms, business meetings, or activities like sailing or golf—whatever was involved in the trip. Conferences, incentive trips—we did it all. As the lead travel director, I further developed my customer service and relationship-building skills with the clients. I worked with Nissan, Honda, Toyota, Ford, Chrysler, Apple, Microsoft, American Express—big companies and their C-Suite leaders. I have really amazing stories.
“And the team this week in Las Vegas was different than the team next week in Rome,” she continues. “Sometimes I’d have five staff and sometimes I’d have 105 staff with groups ranging from 35 to 10,000. Every week, a new team. I’d be like, ‘Who are you? I’ve never met you before. Do you like to do this? Because guess what, that’s your job this week.’ And I was really good at it; I loved it.”
Then, 9/11 happened, and the travel industry was hit hard. Travel became more grueling and the trips weren’t quite as exciting for Campagna. In 2002, she met her now-husband and decided to come “off the road” and try life in Washington, D.C., to be with him. So, in 2003, Campagna took a job with the Young Entrepreneurs Organization (YEO). In 2005, the organization changed its name to the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), and Campagna was promoted to vice president of global events.
“When I came into EO, I found my people,” she says. “They weren’t in corporate banking. They weren’t so much in the Fortune 50 companies that I was working with. The entrepreneurs were my people.”
Coach Patty, The Entrepreneur
It’s possible that entrepreneurship is innate in Campagna. “My dad had his own law firm, and I had that desire to forge my own path like my dad,” she says.
In 2008, as a newlywed, Campagna relocated out of Washington, D.C,, leaving her post at EO, and started taking classes to earn a coaching certificate. One year later, EO reconnected to see if she could help with a regional forum program. “While I was doing my coaching thing, EO contracted me on a part-time basis,” she says. “I helped support forums while building my coaching practice at the same time.”
“EO forums was a really great avenue because it informed some of my coaching work, and my coaching work informed my forum work,” she continues. “They go hand in hand.”
While building a business, Campagna was also building her family, and her part-time status with EO allowed her the stability-yet-flexibility she needed. Then, in 2016, she decided to put all of her efforts into her business, now branded as Leading Teams.
“I’m still a certified EO forum trainer and I get booked by EO Global from time to time,” she explains, “but my energy now also goes into executive coaching, team coaching, and leadership team retreats.
“I help individuals do a better job of leading their teams,” she says. “Sometimes that means leading themselves, in all aspects of their lives. So I coach them as a human, as a leader, and then I can coach and support their people to better understand one another. Basically, it’s like the work I started at Leadership Camp . . . but for adults.”
In the wake of quarantining and fully remote team environments, Campagna sees engagement as a common issue with businesses.
“People are longing for connection, they’re longing to be truly seen,” she says. “We don’t have the water cooler talk that we used to that helped build some of that connective tissue. Employee engagement matters, and employees work a heck of a lot harder for someone who they believe cares about them from a human perspective.”
Another tip? Have your team—yourself included—take a Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder, or Kolbe assessment, or something of the like. “I can see light bulbs go off in my clients’ heads like a zap of lightning when, all of a sudden, they look around the table and they finally have the words to help them understand why maybe they’ve not been communicating well or not understanding one another. In one example, a leader was like, ‘Oh my God, I get it now.’ He could finally see himself in a way that his team was seeing him, and it helped change the way he led his team.”
In the words of another EO Chicago member, Elisa K. Allan from Amylu Foods: “Patty is a beautiful soul who makes you explore your own self and learn to listen to others. She helps me think beyond my cerebral walls and dive deeper into both myself and those around me. Patty is not only fun, but sensitive and insightful—she is a beacon!”