The job of a CEO is never easy, but it’s even harder while navigating through a global pandemic. Your make-or-break decisions are impossible without all the skills, diverse perspectives and available data. You probably receive no shortage of advice from your staff, friends and even your spouse, but it might not be the best guidance for your situation.
“When you’re facing the big decisions, it can feel lonely,” says executive coach Jason Thompson in “Fueling Growth Through Strategic Peer Partnerships.” “One of the best ways to gain outside perspective is to understand how you can leverage a peer advisory group to improve decision-making.” More than just an executive network, a peer advisory group is a forum where fellow CEOs can give and receive objective feedback from fellow executives who’ve dealt with similar experiences.
The concept has been around for decades, but it’s been gaining steam since the pandemic. In The CEO moment: Leadership for a new era, management consulting firm McKinsey & Company says that one way CEOs are transforming the way they lead is by harnessing the power of their peer networks. They are reaching out and talking to each other more now than ever, the article notes. With so much hanging in the balance, there’s an even greater need to make better decisions with greater accuracy and speed. Quite simply, a peer advisory group provides a CEO with a competitive advantage.
What is a CEO peer advisory group?
A peer advisory group is an organized forum for fellow executives to come together and tap into each other’s insights and experiences. In these group settings, CEOs help one another with their toughest challenges, identify and pursue their most promising opportunities, and develop solutions for growth. Some groups have a layperson leading the discussion. Other groups rely on a facilitator with both C-suite experience and training as an executive coach. Discussions are fully confidential.
Peer advisory groups work best when there are noncompeting companies across multiple industries. “I realized the value of those objective outside perspectives. Those folks gave us the absolute best advice because they weren’t constrained by an institutional mindset,” says Dome Construction CEO Rob Lynch. Lynch invests in leadership development via professional peer groups not only for himself but for his employees at every level, from high-potential frontline workers and managers to key executives.
Why do CEOs need a peer advisory group?
By engaging in a peer advisory group, CEOs can focus on improving their leadership style, decision-making and goal-setting with an objective perspective, enabling them to outperform the competition. And both business leaders and coaches agree that peer groups provide tremendous value:
1. You don’t know what you don’t know
“You cannot Google, ‘What am I not doing that I should be doing?’ This is the essential question that gets addressed at every meeting,” says Brian Lauducci, CEO of Paylock IPT.
2. They help identify blind spots
Business strategist AmyK Hutchens says part of the difficulty of seeing our blind spots is because they hide just behind our strengths. Peers can recognize your blind spots and your strengths.
3. They push you
When I challenge my CEOs, they thank me for challenging their thinking, because they don’t often get challenged in their roles, says executive coach Julie Couret.
4. They hold you accountable.
“They hold me accountable,” says Armond A. Dinverno, President of Balasa Dinverno Foltz LLC. “They act as my external board of directors, challenging my thinking. They have helped me achieve a 20 times growth rate of our company since I joined.”
5. They help make sure you’re solving the right problem.
Much like blind spots, human beings can be bad observers of their own reality, often targeting merely a problem’s symptoms, says CEO coach Mark Taylor. A peer group and Chair can help you get to the root of a problem that needs to be addressed.