Peer Power

Peer Power August 8, 2018

I recall a time when a CEO in one of the peer forums I facilitated was presenting a business issue and projected flat growth over the upcoming year. He was about to go on to what he thought was his bigger issue when one of his peers said, “Wait a minute—why are you assuming that your company won’t grow? Your intention will dictate what happens. So if you plan to have a flat year, just give up and go play golf.”

I’ve seen some hard-driving CEOs come to their peer group with an issue that initially appears cut-and-dried. When they examine it with the group and listen to the feedback, they are confronted with new alternatives that weren’t evident before. Part of the feedback the CEO who projected flat growth was hearing from his peer group included challenges such as “Be honest with yourself and don’t play the victim” and “Is this a self-fulfilling prophecy?” The feedback opened the door for the CEO to remove his blinders and see alternatives for growing the business. And he did indeed grow his business 12% that year, something he couldn’t have done without the outside view and push from his peer forum.

We can get stuck in our own thinking. It sometimes takes others we trust to point out a different mindset.

What we know

One of the hallmarks of effective leadership is the ability to distance yourself from a work or personal situation and to look at it with non-attachment. By “helicoptering” over an issue, problem or decision, you as a leader can be more objective because you can see the situation from a less self-centered view.  When you look at what’s going on from a distance and minimize the “it’s about me” factor, you can improve your critical thinking and decision-making, and often find new and creative alternatives.

So how do you develop the ability to stay detached from a situation, allowing yourself to look at the key factors from a new perspective?

Among the most effective ways I’ve observed is bringing your situation, problem, decision or idea to a peer group made up of people you can trust. For over 25 years, I’ve had the opportunity to serve as executive coach, consultant and peer-group facilitator to many CEOs. I learned what separates the successful ones in life from their less successful counterparts, and with Dennis Stearns, I wrote a book called CEO Road Rules: Right Focus, Right People, Right Execution to share our findings.  

You may be thinking, “And when do I find time I already don’t have to meet with a peer support group?” Often, women have been conditioned to respond to a sense of overwhelming challenge by putting it on the back burner and dealing with it “later”—which may never come.

Synergy occurs when leaders from diverse backgrounds come together for the purpose of becoming “even better” leaders at their companies. Some call this type of collaboration a CEO or key leader roundtable or advisory board experience. Others call it a “mastermind” group. Coined by Napoleon Hill in his book Think and Grow Rich, a mastermind group is a peer-to-peer mentoring exchange where members help each other solve problems and achieve goals with each other’s input and advice.

What does becoming “even better” mean? The focus of an effective forum is to help you and your organization move from where you are to where you want to be. Being part of a forum involves growing personally and professionally. “Even better” is about helping you to evolve into your personal best and take your organization to new heights. It’s about learning exponentially from trusted advisors. Exponential learning involves an investment of energy up front, even to make minimal progress.  Over time and with effort, progress accelerates and might continue to do so without substantial additional effort and it means you contribute to the growth of others in turn.

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