The power of CEO peer advisory groups in a pandemic
As the world’s largest CEO coaching and peer advisory organization for small and midsize business leaders, Vistage helps more than 23,000 CEOs, business owners and key executives worldwide reach new levels of success. Vistage CEO Sam Reese is inspired by the way Vistage members have navigated one of the biggest challenges of their careers: a global pandemic.
“The leadership journey is life-long, and Vistage members recognize they don’t need to climb on that journey alone,” Vistage CEO Sam Reese tells The CEO Magazine.
“For more than 60 years, Vistage members have helped one another overcome challenges and obstacles. At this critical time, Vistage leaders are stepping up to support one another yet again, applying insights and best practices that make their journey more successful. Leadership decisions are big differentiators with regards to thriving and surviving. The decisions leaders are making now will define their company’s long-term success.”
These trying times present the opportunity for CEOs to apply all types of new ideas, some even unearthed through CEO peer advisory groups. In fact, a recent report from McKinsey cited “harnessing the power of peer networks” as one of the top four ways CEO leadership is shifting as a result of the pandemic.
The peer advisory groups Vistage facilitates allow leaders the opportunity to share the real-time learnings that come from leading a company through a pandemic, with a diverse group of members offering fresh perspectives to help problem-solve.
The group meetings are facilitated by Vistage Chairs, who are former CEOs and business owners who inherently understand the members’ challenges. Chairs serve as coaches and mentors who ask difficult questions to motivate high-impact decisions, frame issues to inspire robust discussions and critical thinking, help members drive their businesses forward, and foster collaboration to help members map out action plans.
“Vistage peer advisory groups are really how leaders learn. We offer the most effective approach to achieve better results, grow a member’s company faster and maximize their impact as a leader,” says Reese.
Perhaps most importantly, peer advisory groups also provide CEOs with the opportunity to routinely carve out time and space away from the business to reflect, acquire new knowledge and focus on strategy. The stress of leading through a global pandemic requires a leader to pause and regroup, even if briefly.
“The coronavirus has brought disruption and caused unprecedented challenges for CEOs, but it has also inspired innovation,” Vistage CEO Sam Reese tells The CEO Magazine.
“Many companies, including my own, have launched products and programs during the pandemic that would not otherwise exist. Projects that could have taken years were implemented in weeks.”
Reese is right. According to a recent Vistage survey, nearly half (47%) of CEOs said they made changes to products and services as a result of COVID-19. Of those who made changes to their offerings, 49% added products or services that will sustain long-term growth.
Reese is no stranger to innovation and adaptability, and he’s witnessed how Vistage works firsthand. A seasoned CEO, his most recent stint before Vistage was leading a sales performance and consulting organization for 15 years. It was during that time that Reese first joined Vistage as a member himself, before getting recruited years later to lead Vistage.
“I joined Vistage and found the support to supercharge the growth of my business while discovering more balance in my personal life. With my group’s support, I was able to take the business to new levels,” recalls Reese.
He credits Vistage with helping him move away from thinking that a company’s success only revolved around its bottom-line. The goal of effective CEOs is to continue to improve day after day and never be comfortable with the status quo for their company or themselves, and Vistage can help spark that curiosity and change.
Through participating in his Vistage peer advisory group, Reese realized that simply achieving impressive metrics is not what motivates people to go above and beyond. It is not what ensures a company is all working toward the same definition of success and it does not guarantee that an organization and its leader will not sacrifice company values to get there.
Company values and culture are two things that remain top-of-mind for Reese and for a lot of Vistage members in today’s environment.
“Disruption, uncertainty and remote working do not have to shatter culture. Leaders can drive culture by rallying employees around a common purpose and treating teams with respect, even during difficult times,” Reese says.
As he looks to the future, Reese remains optimistic.
“I am inspired by the resilience and creativity of small and mid-size business leaders. Through this pandemic, I’ve been amazed to hear the stories of companies that just refused to quit. Their business and people are too important to them,” says Reese.
“Vistage members really are heroes because these leaders are masters at growing their businesses while actively supporting their families and communities. The way leaders have managed in this crisis will be a key part of their legacy and an example for those who follow in their footsteps.”
This article was originally published on CEO Magazine.