A few years ago, in this space right about this time of year, I wrote a haunting little ditty about the kinds of folks who should avoid looking into a Vistage peer group (check it out here if you missed it).
As the Chair for four Knoxville area Vistage groups for almost six years now, I’ve found a few more scary reasons why some leaders should steer clear of a Vistage peer group.
4. You’re creeped out by the notion of being totally open about your challenges and decisions with other business owners and CEOs.
Our social systems have wired us for answers. We went to the schools, passed the tests, earned the degrees, got the jobs, and received the promotions because in large part, we had the right answers at the right time. Now you’re the leader of an organization (big, small, medium, doesn’t matter), trying to pivot your team through Month Number 20 of a global pandemic, with supply chain and talent challenges that no one’s seen before. Your people are looking to you for answers. Or are they?
Leadership is way more about making decisions than it is about being smart or having answers. There’s no better way to tackle today’s unprecedented challenges than by leaning on other leaders who sit in the same box on the org chart as you. Sure, having 15 or so smart contemporaries hold up a mirror and a flashlight on your situation can be uncomfortable—it is, until they start weighing in with their encouragement and suggestions and approaches you hadn’t even considered. And the quality of that special kind of support (we call it “carefrontational”) is directly proportional to your willingness to be vulnerable and transparent.
Our safe and confidential councils of non-competitive peers make the uncomfortable comfortable and the undiscussable discussable, in pursuit of making better decisions. That’s what your employees expect of you. So keep on zombie-walkin’ past a Vistage group if improving your decision making and helping others improve theirs gives you the heebie-jeebies.
5. You’re staunchly devoted to your super-full plate of commitments and responsibilities.
Billionaire Warren Buffet was famously quoted years ago that the No. 1 habit that distinguishes really successful leaders from everyone else is that they say no to almost everything. But to stop there and take this aphorism at face value is actually self-limiting. What most people miss here is the Oracle of Omaha’s view of the “almost everything” part.
The powerful converse of Buffet’s maxim is the power of saying yes to a short list of things that truly matter. We all have the same 168 hours each week; how are you investing (vs. spending) those hours? Are you getting the ROI you’re expecting from all the things you’re involved in? You may think this is about time, but it’s actually about focus.
When you shift your focus about time to one of an investment for which you expect a decent return as compared to all the other things on your plate, the notion of devoting eight hours a month to your decisions and your practice of leadership no longer sends a chill down your spine. New Vistage members often tell us that within their first three months in one of our groups, they’ve stopped doing other people’s work, they’re getting home earlier, and they wish they had looked into a peer group one, two, even five years ago.
Perhaps you’re already devoting time to reading books or listening to podcasts that expose you to new ideas. That’s good stuff, the question is acting on it. A good peer group is about regular, repetitive, and reinforcing behavior change and accountability that actually sticks. So it’s not a question of adding one more commitment to the teetering pile of duties and obligations on your plate. That view is a good sign that you’re in the weeds, working in your business rather than on it. Rather, it’s a question of relaxing the death grip you have on your calendar that’s so tight it’s preventing you from exploring new approaches to how you’re leading your business. If you hide behind your calendar when scary new things that might help you pop out of the shadows, then a Vistage peer group might not be the thing for you right now.
6. You’re looking for new contacts who will turn into new customers and revenue streams once the moon is full and the clock strikes midnight.
Sure, sometimes Vistage members do business together, and that happens only because there’s a high level of trust, confidence, and respect between the members involved. Our main focus is on building tight groups of high-integrity leaders to help each other make better decisions that benefit our businesses, our families, and our communities here in East Tennessee.
If your current priority is on making new business contacts for new business, nothing wrong with that—by now you know that this is not what Vistage is about. There are other haunts you should spook for that, and we’d be happy to help you find them.
Attention Knoxville area business owners, CEOs, and senior executives: This is still no time to go it alone, and we currently have limited openings in two of my three private groups for high-performing chief executives and those who report to them.
We are bat-sh**-crazy about confidentiality and fit, so we follow a mutual selection process to make sure we get it right. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 865.407.0703 to start our conversation.
Meantime, you should definitely check out the “Recommendations” section of my LinkedIn profile to see the leaders who are in these groups and what they’re getting out of it.