The great fallacy of leadership is thinking you can do it all on your own.
Strong leaders know this, which is why executive peer groups have been gaining steam among management circles for quite some time. In an age of disruptive innovation and visionary leadership, peer feedback can be exactly what sets your business apart from the crowd, positioning you for success down the road.
What Are Executive Peer Groups?
An executive peer group is an informal or formal group comprising business owners and other leaders of differing backgrounds and industries, turning them into one leadership think tank. Perhaps the most popular group of this type is a CEO group, but there are many others, all intended to facilitate sharing ideas, exploring new trends and learning from the successes and failures of others.
The groups are as varied as the members within them: Some executives choose to pay monthly membership fees of as much as $2,000 to gain access to exclusive, top-tier groups with multiple in-person meetings and digital collaboration opportunities. Premier groups may even host meetings at resorts worldwide. Other groups may be considerably more accessible and cheaper — or even free — if they stay local or are simply less formally arranged.
What Are the Benefits?
If you’re considering joining an executive peer group, expect to get out of it what you put in. Look for groups with active members who participate regularly and share candid anecdotes of their own setbacks. The more engaged a group’s membership is, the more likely it is to offer something that will be of real value to your business.
Beyond getting exposure to other leaders’ experiences, a peer executive group offers the benefit of camaraderie. The right group can help you stay accountable to business objectives or find motivation and inspiration from like-minded leaders.
Other benefits include:
- The opportunity to share your vulnerabilities without being judged or regarded as unfit for the job.
- Learning and sharing strategic advice about growing your business, economic forecasting, business modeling, or investing in new technologies or techniques.
- The chance to look beyond day-to-day challenges to longer-term plans, industry-wide trends, and future needs and opportunities.
How Can I Join a Group — or Start My Own?
If you think a peer executive group might help you position your business for success, you have options. A good way to test the waters is to join a local informal meetup designed to share leadership lessons and experience.
Look for these groups either at in-person networking events or online through platforms such as LinkedIn. If you prefer a more structured approach to receiving and giving peer feedback, consider joining a formal organization — with the understanding that it will come at a cost.
A few examples include Peer Executive Groups, YPO and Renaissance Executive Forums, but a quick Google or LinkedIn search will yield many more. Some groups limit membership through an application process to thwart competitive interests from holding the group back, so be aware that not every group may be right for you.
You can always start your own group, too. Often, informal groups may launch organically as friends and former colleagues begin meeting to bounce ideas off one another. Think about proposing small-setting meetings among existing local leadership councils or other organizations — a morning coffee exchange through your local chamber of commerce could benefit everyone involved.
Other settings can be launchpads for more organized leadership think tanks, such as women’s CEO groups or university alma maters. Examine your existing network and connections to identify opportunities and unmet needs, and go from there.
We all stand to benefit from the combined expertise of others. And as much as you might like to think you can carry the world on your shoulders, you can’t do everything on your own. What’s more, you don’t have to. The next great business idea waiting in the wings might come from an unexpected source, like a leader of a completely different company. Give yourself a leg up by hearing them out.
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