The expression used to be that it is “lonely at the top” but today with the global pandemic, it’s not only about being lonely but feeling alone as well. While you are keeping up with the day to day tasks of running your business, you are probably trying to think about how your business strategy is changing or how to ensure that your team members have everything they need to get their work done.
I was recently contacted by the President of a healthcare company who I had previously provides professional advisory services. We hadn’t talked for over a year and as we started chatting, I could tell that he started inhaling his own fumes. We were talking about the growth plan for his business; He had talked to a few customers, vendors, and his own team and told me that everyone agreed with his perspective and he wanted to run his ideas by me as well.
I could see right away that he wanted confirmation that he was on the right path and when I started to point out some counter thoughts, I could see that his previous self-confidence was beginning to wane. Soon, he told me that he’s had doubts but all the information he had received seemed to fit his perspective of how he wanted to progress.
He had fallen victim to “confirmation bias” where he looked for and found the facts and stories that backed up his belief and which further validated for him that he was on the right path.
This kind of faulty thinking can easily happen, especially these days, given the isolation and lack of collaboration we are all experiencing. We take time between tasks to think about what needs to be done and how we can do it, perhaps read an article or even run an idea by someone on Zoom. We lack however the opportunity for deeper conversations and discussions about how to put these ideas into play or even if they make much sense!
One of the remedies for CEO isolation these days is to join a Peer Leadership Group. These groups generally meet on a regular basis, perhaps 6-9 times a year and bring together leaders from different fields but who run companies of similar size to ensure that cooperation and not competition is the theme of the day and that common problems can be found among participants.
Peer groups are different from networking groups in that they are facilitated by a professional and have targeted objectives for each member for how he or she can grow themselves and their businesses.
Some of the benefits of the Leader Peer Groups include:
- Multiple perspectives: Think no one has faced your problems before, forget that. In a peer group, you’ll find that many of your colleagues are either solving that problem, solved that problem, or don’t know they have that problem, in which case the two of you can solve it together.
- Accountability: CEO’s of small businesses rarely have anyone who can hold them accountable for setting and getting the big and important work done. Your peer colleagues can offer the support and follow-up to ensure that you are getting done what you say needs to get done…and of course you can help hold them accountable as well.
- Time for you: You may have a great support system from your family or even your leadership team but when you get out of the office and enter a safe zone where you hear other’s perspectives and they are able to share theirs, most leaders walk away feeling refreshed and more confident about the direction they need to take.
- Growth ideas: Most small business owners spend their time working in the business rather than on the business. While this ensures that the day to day work gets done, many CEOs may find that they are more like individual contributors than leaders. The CEO peer group promotes thinking beyond today and more towards tomorrow. After all, everyone in the group wants to grow their business, not keep it where it is.
- Become a better leader: While you may have a good idea of the kind of leadership skills that work for you, hearing how others lead will enhance your own skills and provide a view of leadership that you may have not considered. The Leader Peer group also provides a chance for you to “try out” some of the ideas that you may want to put into play through exercises like role playing or the “hot seat.” There is no better teacher than practice and experience and the peer group is a fun and safe place to try on some new styles.
Whether you are a start-up leader looking for the right path to take or a veteran CEO who is feeling a little “Pandemiced Out,” consider joining a Leader Peer Group where you can meet up with colleagues who share your excitement and passion for success.