How to Choose a CEO and Executive Peer Group that's Right for You

How to choose a CEO or peer group that's right for youOne key challenge for small- to midsize-business CEOs and owners is to develop the next level of leadership so the CEO can elevate and delegate.

CEOs need to find a way to help their key leaders think more strategically and to work ON the business in addition to working IN the business.

CEOs also need to broaden the perspective of their often home-grown executives beyond how their company has always done things.

CEO and Executive Peer Advisory Groups

CEO and Executive Peer Advisory Groups pioneered by Vistage (formerly known as TEC) nearly 60 years ago are a powerful way to achieve the above objectives. How to choose a CEO and executive peer group that’s right for you can be a straightforward process.

How to Choose a CEO and Executive Peer Advisory Group

First, decide if you want to deepen expertise in your current function, or if you want to develop a broader, cross-functional perspective.

If you want to master your current discipline, I recommend a function specific peer group. If you want to prepare for a broader role in the organization, a cross-functional group such as a Vistage Key Executive Peer Group (with VPs from sales and marketing, engineering, operations, IT and HR) is a better option.

Once you’ve decided which type of group best meets your needs, use these three criteria to choose the group that’s right for you.

1. Who chairs the meetings?

Most business leaders find the biggest expense in belonging to a group is not the membership fees – it’s the value of their time spent in the meetings. The meeting chair can dramatically increase the value you receive from your peer meetings.

To evaluate a chair’s credentials, ask:

  • What is their education and experience – not only in running a business, but in executive coaching and group facilitation?
  • How do they measure their own effectiveness and the effectiveness of their group?
  • What do they do to continually improve their skills as a group chair?
  • What do their members say about them on their website or on LinkedIn?’

2. Who else is in the group?

Just as important as the group's chair, each member provides valuable experience and insight. Plus you want to feel comfortable and challenged by your peers.

To evaluate a group's members, ask:

  • Are there several people in the group who have been where you are going and have expertise and experience that you don’t?
  • Are there companies of various sizes and industries?
  • Are some recognized as leaders in their industry?
  • How do you feel about the chemistry of the group?
  • Are members helping each other with critical issues?
  • Do they challenge one another and ask the tough questions?
  • Do they support one another?

3. What access do you have to business expertise outside of your peer group members?

Beyond the members and chair, an effective CEO and executive peer group should provide additional resources to further the experience.

To evaluate a group's resources, ask:

  • Does the group bring in great speakers?
  • Is there a broader community in your city, state, country or globally that you can call on for help?
  • Do they have a website to connect with other members and leading experts to get help between meetings?

Using this checklist will help you find a great peer group that’s the best fit for you.

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About the author

Brian Davis
Vistage Chair

Brian Davis is one of the top-ranked Vistage Chairs in the country and has built 4 groups in record time through referrals. Members value his breadth of global experience in starting, growing, and turning around businesses coupled with his deep expertise (Ph.D.) in leadership and organizational psychology.

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