I think CEO peer groups are great. I believe every leader should be in a peer group. But not every CEO is right for every peer group. Here is my take on how to know if a CEO peer group is right for you:
Are You Ready for Change?
Don’t bother with a peer group if you aren’t ready for change. Not only is it a waste of your time, but it is frustrating for everyone else in the group too. Why spend a lot of EVERYONE’S time trying to help YOU with your growth and leadership skills if you can’t or won’t make the changes to improve? Most CEO’s I encounter understand the need for personal and professional self-improvement. Every once in a while, I encounter someone who has ALL the answers. If that’s you, skip the peer group and write a book. 🙂
Does it “Feel” Right?
One of the most important factors in selecting a peer group is “fit”. What are your subjective impressions when visiting the group? How about the members? You will spend some significant time with these people. What are they like? I tell my group that they don’t actually have to “like” everyone in the room. In fact, cognitive diversity is one of the best parts of having a peer group. If you could get valuable insight from someone, wouldn’t you want that person in the group?
What’s Under the Surface?
I encourage prospective members to look beyond the surface. For example, it might be tempting to look at the size of the companies involved. Some CEOs want to surround themselves with execs from companies that are larger than their own. But think about this: which is more successful, the CEO of a $5MM company with 40% profitability or the CEO of a $100MM company with 2% profitability? Don’t be fooled by appearances. That rough-talking, poorly-dressed fellow from a company that’s only half your size might just have a word of insight that could save your company millions.
Focused on Growth?
The CEO’s in my group are focused like a laser on growing their businesses. Not all groups are the same. Some are quite social, focused more on travel and meeting spouses. That’s fun too! My group is about growing the business.
Here are a few questions to ask group members early on:
- What are your goals?
- Why are you in this group?
- What has the group helped you with so far?
- What value have you received from being involved?
Asking these questions is a great way to decide if the group is right for you
Personally, I like a well-run meeting. I don’t enjoy it when one person monopolizes the entire conversation. Also, I appreciate it when an observant leader is able to coax out a good response from a quiet member. (Some of the best ideas come from the “quiet” ones!) I like a meeting that starts on time and ends on time, and I appreciate it when one person watches the clock so that we ALL don’t have to. A professional facilitator can help with all of these issues!
All About Networking?
Occasionally, I’ll meet a CEO who says she wants to “network”. I highly encourage CEO’s to network, but my peer group isn’t the best place to do that. My group is more about getting to know a small group of people and letting down your guard enough for them to get to know you. We are more about depth than breadth. If you are interested in networking, there are better organizations in town. If, on the other hand, you are seeking personal and professional growth in a confidential setting, then let’s talk!
THINK YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED?
See what my CEO group members are saying about the value of the group.