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Sunday, 29 September 2013

You Don’t Have Anyone to Talk To? Try the Power of the Peer Group!

In the last couple of months I have had the pleasure of building a new group in the North West of the UK or Vistage, this time a Key Executive Group which, as it happens, also includes a couple of small business owners. 

Most of the members have been sponsored by members of my Chief Executive group and some of them have had experience of Vistage group meetings as visitors. 

On the face of it, one would imagine that it would take some time for a group to bond sufficiently to be able to download their issues in an open and transparent way. 

Many of the issues which we have discussed have been complex and because they have invariably involved people in the business, there is a measure of emotional involvement as well. 

There has been no problem at all.  I have been delighted at the way that the group has bonded and there seems almost an air of relief that at last they have someone to talk to. 

Not only has there been that sense of relief but there has also been a great feeling of camaraderie. Members have coming to a meeting saying that they are looking forward to an update from one member or another who had brought up a difficult issue at the previous meeting. 

So what can we learn from this experience?  There is no doubt that senior people in business have two major issues; one is that the higher one progresses up an organisation there are fewer people to tell them that they are doing a good job and that demands emotional stamina. 

We all need reassurance from time to time and the opportunities diminish with promotion. 

In addition, most people who are ambitious and upwardly mobile actually want and often need to be challenged, always assuming that the challenge is positive and helpful.
Both of these demands are difficult to find in a regular organisation unless there is a forward thinking, inclusive leader on hand to help the team to build their self esteem and self confidence. 

The peer group is the ideal forum to fulfil this need.  Members, especially in a Vistage group, are carefully selected so that there are no competing businesses and with no encouragement to use the group as a network to obtain business. 

These criteria ensure that the group operates in an open and transparent environment and that, together with the mandatory confidentiality, makes for safety and the freedom to express opinions which, believe me, they certainly do. 

A further advantage of the Key Executive group is that the members begin to understand the inevitable changes which the CEO has been bringing into the business and that can help with the administration of change overall. 

This has been an exciting time for me personally and, I hope, for the great new members who are experiencing probably for the first time the huge advantage of having someone they trust to talk to.
As individuals we are all unique in one way or another and at the same time we are instinctively pack animals.  We gather together perhaps with people we don’t really know but with whom we have one or two specific points of contact and mutual interest.    

A peer group environment supplies just that need.
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