CEOs, Here’s How to Choose the Right Peer Group
The advantages of participating in a “Peer Roundtable” or “Mastermind Group” are well established and have been utilized by thousands of various professionals and leaders for many years. The focus of these groups depends on the shared interests of the participants and there are a number of structures that are utilized varying from half-day monthly meetings to quarterly or semi-annual multi-day formats. Most formats are successful depending on multiple factors that are outside of the design itself. Our discussion today is intended to identify some key elements that leaders should consider when deciding to join a group or selecting between multiple groups.
1. First, Check the health of the local group you are considering joining as well as the statistics of the sponsoring national group if there is one. Ask about the member retention rate of the group locally and nationally. Members vote with their feet. In our culture no one has time to spend on or in activities that don’t provide great value. The peers that you want to learn from are competent, busy, and successful. They won’t linger in a grip that doesn’t provide real value.
2. Check out the reach of the national organization if there is an affiliation with one involved. Part of the value that is available from the best providers is an opportunity to connect beyond the scope of the local group in meaningful ways. The local members are the prime contact of course but the ability to connect with industry-specific peers in other locations around the US and overseas can bring added value.
3. Look for a local leader who is an excellent facilitator, not necessarily a gifted teacher. The reason for joining a group is to learn from the members not the leader/facilitator. The value of the group should be “in the group” taking advantage of the differences in educational, professional, and experiential represented in the group. The best groups offer a variety of learning experiences throughout the meeting time often through the discussion among the members on a topic presented or a question asked by a another member.
4. Avoid groups that are trying to sell you other services or exposing you to solicitation by other vendors such as consulting services. Leaders are hit on enough without adding to the number. Ask the facilitator where he/she derives revenue, whether from serving the group or from other sources.
5. If you are a person of faith there are a number of offerings available to you. There is more to life than professional success and if your faith is a factor that is important to you include it in your criteria. Google is a great resource for first looks and pre-qualification of the type of group that will suit you best. Include your specific faith or “faith-based” in your search terms (i.e. “Christian CEO group” or “faith based CEO/owners group”).
6. Check out the requirement, or lack thereof, for the group members to hold confidential all that is said in the meeting. The best groups require total confidentiality and the ability to create relationships that are honest and transparent, even vulnerable are based on trust that develops over time. The relationships that grow among and between members are key to the long term value found in the group.
The saying that “there are more smart people outside of our business or leadership team than inside it” is pretty much true in almost all small to mid-size businesses. The added wisdom and the counsel and advice found in a high-quality, well functioning peer-advisory board can be the difference in staying as an average business or becoming an outstanding business. Accessing and leveraging the best resources available is a key.
Buck Jacobs is Founder of The C12 Group, LLC, America’s leading provider of CEO Roundtable services to Christian business owners and chief executives. www.c12group.com