Harvard Business Review (HBR) stated that 50 percent of CEOs they have surveyed report experiencing feelings of loneliness in their role and 61 percent of these believe it hinders their performance. CEOs typically attend management and leadership programmes run by organisations such as Enterprise Ireland or executive programmes run by elite academic institutions in Europe and the USA. However, being away from their business for any length of time is practically impossible. These CEOs would certainly benefit from the perspective of peers who had been down a similar road before and who would offer advice in a trusting and confidential forum.
When CEOs reach the top of any organisation, their options to collaborate and network naturally narrow. They now face scenarios that they most likely will not have been exposed to previously and being able to adapt to meet these new challenges head-on is paramount for the success of their business. Against this backdrop, CEOs also need to continually evolve in their thinking and be innovative in their decision making.
Leaders need a safe place to think and someone to talk to that can offer them advice and counsel that is independent and based on trust and experience. Learning to accept feedback from trusted peers can ultimately make for a more resilient leader. Plugging into a trusted network that is well designed and managed means leaders can learn from common challenges and successes, quickly alleviating any sense of professional isolation. This is backed up by findings from Harvard Business who discovered from their CEO survey that 71% benefited greatly from seeking peer support resulting in improved company performance.
HBR studies also show that while short and medium perspectives must, of course, be a focus for the business the more successful and adaptable CEOs spend considerably more time with an eye on long term perspectives. With a focus here it means that any warning signals can be picked up early and addressed. Highly adaptable CEOs regularly plug into broad information flows: They scan wide networks and diverse sources of data, finding relevance in information that may at first seem unrelated to their businesses.
Diverse perspectives are essential for better decision making and where better to access agenda free insights than a peer to peer support group made up of like-minded, results-driven leaders in business. Choosing the right peer group is imperative. The CEO Institute, a global peer-to-peer network of experienced CEOs provides invaluable support to its members. It allows CEOs to connect and talk with peers on their issues and challenges rather than managing their burden alone. For this to work, special consideration is given to making the right CEO matches in each cohort, structuring the sessions accordingly so that they deliver the intended benefits and prioritising key challenges and issues affecting members. Each cohort is structured from the perspective of discussion themes and events and therefore each cohort is unique.
The common thread from existing CEO cohorts in Australasia and the Far East is the sharing of genuine advice on true life experiences given by members of the cohort built on trust and total confidentiality within the group and in a non-competitive setting
Sir Roger Carr of BAE Systems echoed these sentiments in a 2017 article “The importance of being able to talk to someone in confidence who is not a stakeholder or a paymaster”
Feedback from existing cohorts show these small intimate groups of like-minded individuals are eager to discuss their business in a safe and supportive environment and involvement has led to life-long associations and indeed great friendships.
Putting set dates in the calendar to sit with peers provides an opportunity to work on your business rather than in it. Everyone stands to gain!
The CEO Institute, a world-leading peer-to-peer network of successful CEOs, is stepping up its global presence this year, partnering with the Leading Edge Group to launch new network groups in Ireland and Ontario Canada. Established in 1992, The CEO Institute represents over 1000 members across 12 countries and has made a significant impact on the business landscape through its highly successful peer-to-peer experiential learning model.
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