3 Things You Need to Know About Vistage CEO Peer Groups

All Blog Posts, Vistage Peer Groups / 03.12.20130 comments

Vistage CEO Peer Groups are a powerful resource for Minnesota business leaders.

As the leading Vistage Chair in the Twin Cities, I routinely facilitate peer groups for some of the top executives in Minnesota. Over the last year, my peer groups have been noted in a variety of publications such as The Minneapolis Star TribuneThe Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, and Entrepreneur Magazine.

Despite increasing amounts of media coverage, many business leaders are still unaware of the benefits that CEO peer groups have to offer. The most frequently asked questions I encounter are:

  1. What is a CEO or executive peer group?
  2. Why do people join CEO peer groups?
  3. What topics do CEO peer groups cover?

The following post provides answers to those questions and guidance on finding the right peer group for you.

1) What is a CEO peer group?

A CEO peer group is a cohort of executives and owners of non-competing businesses who meet regularly to help each other grow their organizations, their people, and themselves.

These peer groups are intended to be a confidential “safe haven” where business leaders can work through their toughest strategy, leadership, and people challenges together.

Most importantly, CEO peer groups consist of experienced executives who share the frank feedback that is often so hard to obtain within one’s organization.


2) Why do people join CEO peer groups?

The members of my CEO peer groups join for a variety of reasons, both personal and professional.

Most entrepreneurs join CEO peer groups because they want to increase their effectiveness as leaders or enrich their lives – for entrepreneurs these aims are often intertwined.

For CEOs or heads of companies, many join CEO peer groups because they want to run their businesses instead of having their businesses run them. These individuals find that meeting monthly with a group of experienced, non-judgmental peers helps stop them from working “in the business” so they can focus on working “on the business” by being more strategic.


3) What topics are covered in CEO peer groups?

Vistage CEO peer groups tackle the most difficult challenges that executives face.

The topics covered in my CEO peer groups include business strategy shifts, assessing talent, and work-life balance. Often CEOs find that posing a challenge to a peer groups helps them clarify the real issue and frame their problem more accurately.

Here are some examples of issues we processed recently:

Merger Matchmaking

The CEO of $70M company was behind his revenue plan and wanted help analyzing a potential merger opportunity with a much smaller firm before taking it to his board of directors.

The group asked him a number of tough questions about the strategic fit of the target company to assure he had covered his bases before taking it to the board.


Strategic Focus

A $2M family firm felt that their sales had plateaued, and the CEO was trying to decide whether he had the right people in the sales role. Further probing by the group revealed that his sales people had been highly successful in the past, and that there were plenty of opportunities in the pipeline.

The group discussion led to the insight that sales people were spending a lot of time on opportunities that were outside of the company’s sweet spot. The group helped him better define his target customer so he could focus his sales effort there, rather than chasing opportunities that were outside of their core.

Finally, they suggested that he and his sales people go on a few joint calls to make sure they were executing good sales fundamentals, and had not developed bad habits.


Trust Issues

A relatively new CEO who had been brought in from the outside felt a need to either get an executive coach for a key member on her leadership team, who she didn’t trust. The group asked her a number of questions to help her diagnose whether the trust issues she was experiencing were a function of the person’s “character” or “capability.”

They shared their experiences with executive coaching, and suggested that while it can be highly effective in closing capability gaps, it doesn’t work when the trust issues are due to character or integrity gaps.  Based on their input, she decided that she and the organization would be better off if she replaced the key executive.


Joining Executive Peer Groups

Overcome your business challenges by joining a Vistage CEO peer group.

Peer advisory groups are an important staple of the Vistage experience. My peer groups are a place for Twin Cities executives can hash out their most difficult business problems in a confidential setting.

Vistage groups have leaders from small to large companies across a range of industries, including manufacturing, finance and technology. Although Vistage members are typically accepted by referral, interested individuals can familiarize themselves with my Vistage groups to determine whether they are a good fit.

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