When you “shop” for a new vehicle, your choices are driven by several factors, type of vehicle (car, SUV, truck) notwithstanding. What you ultimately choose depends on your needs and wants, and sometimes just what feels right.
Coincidentally, you go through some of the same decision-making steps when you evaluate peer advisory groups.
Here are five factors you should weigh when evaluating your choice of CEO and executive peer advisory groups.
1. Peer Group Members
If you’re a CEO or business owner, join a group that consists mostly of other CEOs or company owners. CEOs deal with similar issues no matter the industry: culture, strategy, growth, succession planning, acquisitions, and more. You’ll learn the most from owners and CEOs facing the same daily challenges as you.
If you’re a senior manager (VP, senior director) responsible for a function like finance, operations, manufacturing, HR, IT, or sales and marketing then join a group that meets the needs of senior functional leaders. Vistage chair Brian Davis says these “Function specific peer groups also help prepare you for a broader role in the organization.”
Just as important as who’s in the group is the chemistry of the group. Is it a good fit for you? Do people help each other with business challenges and issues? Do you think you can learn from the others in the group?
2. Peer Group Size
The best peer group size ranges from 10 to 16 members. Too few people can limit the number of new ideas and perspectives that are introduced to the group, while on the other hand, too many group members can lead to not having enough time during a meeting to share ideas and issues.
3. Industry Variety
While some peer groups serve companies in the same industries, others form groups around a diversity of industries and company sizes. Peer groups with members from multiple industries typically derive more value from the group because the best ideas tend to come from industries outside their own.
From the article “CEO Peer Groups: How to Find Your Match, Anne Field writes, “The more diverse the group, the greater the likelihood you’ll get input that might challenge your way of thinking—and provide new insights as a result.”
Indeed, Sharon Bloodworth, the president of a wealth advisory firm in the Twin Cities says she’s in a peer group with many CEOs of manufacturing companies. “I’ve learned an awful lot from them. They’ve just been terrific mentors.”
4. Meeting Format
Choose a peer group with a meeting format that best suits your preferences. Formats differ as widely as the number of peer groups. First, some peer groups may meet a half day every month, while others meet for a whole day. Some may only meet once per quarter.
Meetings can be highly structured or organizationally loose. Some peer groups may have time set aside for guest presenters who speak and lead discussions, while others may spend all the time helping individual members solve specific problems. Some groups combine both in a single meeting.
Some peer groups are facilitated by seasoned business leaders and, or, former CEOs with formal coaching and mentoring training, while some groups are self-led. If you are comfortable leading your own group, then this option may be right for you.
Surprisingly, says Vistage’s Brian Davis “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.”
Professional peer group facilitators respect the limited time of the group’s members, and they have the training and experience to lead efficient and effective meetings.
Additionally, facilitators in some CEO and executive peer advisory groups meet with the group members in one-on-one meetings at least once per month for individual coaching and mentoring.
Ultimately, there are numerous factors you should consider when you evaluate a CEO and executive peer advisory group. And just like shopping for that new vehicle, don’t choose one before taking a test drive first. Attend at least one peer group meeting before making your final decision. Happy “shopping.”
Ready to attend your first Vistage Minnesota peer advisory group meeting? Find out how >>