October 1, 2017
There is a saying that “it’s lonely at the top!” But it doesn’t have to be. Advisory boards and CEO peer groups offer an opportunity for leaders to share their fears, problems, challenges and accomplishments. A group of non-competing business executives can provide diverse perspectives in a confidential and private forum. CEOs who are committed to continuous improvement realize that there is immense value to be learned from peers who deal with many of the same issues. They gain unique insights that they can take back to their companies and develop strategic solutions that create results. CEOs also seek ways to grow their businesses and bouncing ideas off of other leaders can help them flesh out the opportunities and obstacles.
CEO peer groups such as Vistage, the Alliance of CEOs, Renaissance Executive Forum or others provide unique approaches to assist CEOs in managing their business better. Meeting monthly with like-kind business owners, CEOs and top-level executives, while sharing ideas, challenges and opportunities, opens up a new world for the CEO. My monthly Alliance of CEOs meeting affords me an opportunity to hear about the issues faced by small and medium sized business owners. Our group openly shares experiences and helps members find solutions that work for each of us. The varied perspectives help me see things differently. Much of what I learn in turn helps me be a better business advisor to my clients.
CEO peer groups also help to keep the CEO on track and not work “in” the business, but “on” the business by obtaining innovative ideas and creative approaches to critical business matters. Board members and management teams may only tell the CEO what they want to hear and not what they need to hear. Peer groups can act as your personal advisory board assisting you with making the right decisions for your business which we all know is paramount for business growth. Another key factor that peer groups provide is accountability, holding one another accountable for doing what they say they will do to achieve their goals.
CEO peer groups are growing at a fast pace. There are a variety of reasons including the increased complexity of many businesses, competition, technology, investor expectations, and the lengthy recovery from the economic decline due to the Great Recession. Competition, financial management, recruiting talent, customer service and unexpected events keep our CEOs on their toes. With the advent of social media and new technologies such as cloud computing and app development, CEOs struggle to keep up. CEOs need a sounding board to help them navigate the many pressures of doing business.
RINA’s Howard Zangwill and Tom Neff are in Vistage groups. In addition to the above benefits they appreciate the quality of the presenters brought in to share new ideas and methodologies.
One of the original members of the Alliance of CEOs told me that “CEOs love to learn … but they hate to be taught.” We believe in creating safe, confidential environments where CEOs are exposed to a wide range of business models, strategies, leadership styles and fresh perspectives. As a result, CEOs are able to sharpen their thinking and consider new approaches which can often result in breakthrough ideas.
Working with more than 100 Bay Area mid-market CEOs, I’ve learned that every leader of an organization can define their tenure by a handful of decisions they’ve made. CEOs and senior executives augment their own instincts, judgment, and perspectives with the perspectives of their peers’ perceptions and experience. The deep relationships which I’ve seen develop in each group, are a foundation to support each person to become a better leader, make better decisions, and achieve better results.
Those who aspire to improve their professional and leadership skills continuously seek opportunities to learn, and adults learn best through peer learning. That’s why CEO’s and Business Owners belong to CEO peer groups. The advice from other leaders and presentations from experts creates a venue for exploring the world beyond the members’ business boundaries.