When Should a CEO Join a Peer Group?

When Should a CEO Join a Peer Group?

There is no substitute for getting direct and candid feedback from a group of peers that you trust and respect. That trust takes time.

Peer groups, or mastermind groups as they are sometimes called, can provide massive value to CEOs. It is important to join a group before major business problems occur. To the the most value from a peer group, you need to build a foundation of trust, and be vulnerable within the group.

When asked about when a CEO should join a peer group, Patrick said, “It reminds me of a line from the movie Spy Game. It’s a movie with Robert Redford and Brad Pitt. He (Redford) has a bunch of secret files that he gives to a secretary and says, “Burn these if I give you a text or a phone call.” She asks, “What’s the deal?” He said, “When did Noah build the ark Alice? Before it started to rain.” That’s when you should join a peer group. Before it rains.

Once you’re in the midst of a very difficult dilemma or problem, your ability to hustle and put together a peer group isn’t possible. You do it before it rains. You do it when you can build those relationships over time. Inevitably, with every company, the proverbial shit does hit the fan. I think peer groups are even more important for CEOs. I think they’re important for everyone.

As a CEO, you really don’t have peers. You can’t tell your management team everything. Even if you have friends on your management team that you take into your confidence, there are some things that you can’t talk to those people about. You can’t tell everything to your board. I’m an advocate of providing transparency to your board. It’s not necessarily going to be a collaborative discussion around things.

Boards typically expect you not only to come with problems but to come with solutions when you bring up those problems. Having peers who have done what you’ve done is important. You want to have people around the table where some are behind you and ahead of you with different experiences with building businesses.

There is immense value in having that group of people, especially if you’ve gotten to the point where you can really trust each other and you have that level of intimacy where you can be genuine about what’s really going on, not only in your professional life, but in your personal life. As a person, all this stuff ties together. Having friends and colleagues that you can talk to about these things becomes very important.”

This is Patrick Henry, CEO of QuestFusion, with The Real Deal…What Matters.

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