The Strategic Value of a CEO Peer Group to the Small Business Owner
It is lonely at the top and the CEO is expected to have all the answers. A CEO Peer Group helps the CEO by acting as a sounding board, a brainstorming group, and sometimes as the necessary harsh critic who points out what you can't see for yourself. We have always heard that many heads are better than one. Have you considered that a CEO Peer Group might help you become a better leader, make better decisions and get better business results?
Joining a CEO Peer Group may seem like an activity viable only for large corporations that spend thousands on expensive consulting engagements. But CEO Peer Group benefits extend into the realm of small business as well. A CEO Peer Group can be the perfect opportunity to share with, learn from, and collaborate with other executives in your region. The experience can be eye-opening and enlightening and can impart a number of specific benefits; I speak from experience as an eleven-year CEO Peer Group veteran.
First, a broad spectrum of perspectives is one of the most prominent benefits a CEO Peer Group can offer your small business. A CEO Peer Group will include CEOs in all sorts of industries, with big and small companies. You might be surprised at how relevant the issues of a CEO in a different industry or region can be to your business. This fact was counterintuitive to me and was the primary reason why I avoided joining a CEO Peer Group for decades. How, I thought, could a CEO in the Food industry possibly help me in the IT industry? A CEO Peer Group will give you the opportunity to present individual challenges or dilemmas to seasoned business individuals who can provide unique and fresh perspectives. For example, I was encouraged to focus on hiring an Operations Manager from my group as they saw me spending too much time on running the business. I have also been encouraged to focus on building a stronger management team.
ANP offers a Virtual CIO periodic meeting to our outsourced clients, in many ways it is a peer group of IT professionals providing you and your business with strategic IT advice. You have a strategic IT professional who can discuss business issues with you and turn those conversations into actionable technology projects. Or you could elect to sit down and allow ANP to take you through a seven step strategic session to discover your technology gaps. ANP also offers a free IT audit and network assessment which can report back a snapshot of how your company technology is setup and running, its a free IT report card. The same type of process occurs in a CEO peer group, an issue is brought to the group and "processed," using a best practice methodology providing you with a great amount of value.
Secondly, your CEO Peer Group will give you the opportunity to discuss strategy, vision, and the big picture. You spend enough time worrying about day-to-day dilemmas while interacting inside your organization, so use this time with your peers to discuss and analyze broader issues. You have heard the expression that a CEO should work “on” the business not “in” it? Receiving honest input from multiple sources in your CEO Peer Group can help you form a more accurate picture of your industry and the market as a whole than is possible from the narrow view of your individual business. Small businesses especially can fall victim to getting too wrapped up in little issues to focus any attention on the big picture. Don't miss the chance to step out and analyze your company from a broader perspective.
Finally, my CEO Peer Group has created a network of trust and accountability for my professional life. It would be naive to think that all members of these groups are entirely honest with each other, but when openness is extended by all parties, a unique climate can be established. Instead of the rivalry and secrecy that often enshroud inter-organizational interactions, you can now engage in encouragement, honesty and accountability with your business peers. Use your CEO Peer Group to share week-by-week developments. Explain what things from your last meeting worked and what things flopped. Encourage others to do the same and you'll find that competitiveness quickly takes a back seat to collaboration.
CEO Peer Groups and forums are an excellent outlet for a small business CEO to share and learn. With a diverse range of perspectives, a chance to step back and see the big picture, and a climate of honesty and accountability, these groups can help you take your organization and professional career to the next level. I find that on months when I did not bring up an issue or challenge, I was still able to learn an enormous amount just by listening to the thoughts and ideas of my CEO peers!
CEO Peer Groups often serve as saviors to entrepreneurs who find themselves singing the lonely-at-the-top blues. As CEOs we are not always going to hear what we need to hear from our employees. A CEO can join a peer group because other CEOs will tell them what they need to hear, not just what they want to hear. A CEO Peer Group is really like having an objective sounding board of CEOs whose only agenda is to help you and your business get better.
The power of a CEO group stems from the willingness of its members to share their cumulative experience and expertise. Collectively, there are no blind spots; some CEOs are great sales people, some excel at product development and some are experts at running global businesses. Some run local family businesses. What you need is diversity of industry, size and experience; by having that diversity in your peer group, everybody has someone who has been where they are trying to go.
If you would like to know more about a CEO Peer Group company, please fill out the ANP contact form and write “CEO Peer Group” in the notes section. I will personally see that you get a free call from a Vistage Peer Group chair, or simply call me and I would be happy to share my experiences with you. You can reach me David S. Mulvey at (267) 628-1033.