Leadership Competencies

I Dunno, Are Theeeey? How to Tell If Your Team Is Ready for Peer Advisory Groups

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Occasionally, we get asked a question from our Vistage Connect executive community that we hand off to one of our resident experts. Today, bestselling author and “hall of fame” professional speaker Jim Cathcart tackles a recent query addressing the issue of how to know when someone on your team is ready for peer advisory programs.]

Question: How can I tell when one of the executives on my team is ready for peer advisory programs?

Answer: Just because someone needs help or would benefit from collaboration with top-level professionals doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she is ready for the experience.

I recall a “Master-Mind Alliance” of colleagues that I was in years ago. We had one member who was successful in business, likable, and intelligent — but who clearly didn’t fit the profile of the group. He repeatedly took up time in meetings pontificating on topics that most of the group had long since settled or mastered. His questions and recommendations were not suited for the forum in which he was participating.

The problem we had was compounded by the fact that we liked him. A nice guy with a good mind — but he simply didn’t belong in this group. Ultimately, we had to ask him to leave. Predictably, hard feelings ensued.

Situations like this are avoidable, but only by careful discipline in the recruitment and selection process. And here’s the key: It is vital to the welfare of a group that each member truly belongs in the group.

But how can you tell if a member really belongs?

  1. First, have a clear, written profile of the “Ideal Candidate.” Know what one looks like, and be specific about all elements that matter. For example:
    • Level of personal and professional success;
    • Compatibility with the other group members;
    • Openness to coaching and corrective feedback;
    • Professional and emotional maturity;
    • Reputation among peers and in the marketplace;
    • Expertise in the field; and
    • Financial strength and savvy.
  2. Now, select the criteria that matter to you and create your own list. But be totally honest about who you’re looking for — one misfit can diminish the quality of the experience for all participants.
  3. Publish your criteria as appropriate, and don’t let candidates know they’re being considered until you’re almost certain to invite them in.
  4. Be careful not to invite more than two new members into the group in one business cycle. There needs to be time for the group to readjust itself to the reality of having a new member, and for the member to understand the practices and protocols that make the group worth joining.
  5.  Don’t select people based on their need for you. Select them based on the value they’re likely to bring to the group.

One final bit of advice: People who are still “in progress” (at an earlier stage) and aren’t quite ready to join should be referred to a coach, advisor or training experience until they are ready to raise the value of the group by joining it.

That’s my opinion … and I’m sticking to it!

This topic and more are included in the Vistage Connect™ CEO peer advisory sessions. Learn more.

Jim Cathcart is the bestselling author of 16 books and a “hall of fame” professional speaker. He has worked with 2,700 clients worldwide over his 35 years as a trainer and consultant. Jim is the founder of Cathcart.com and a frequent coach to many of his colleagues and clients. He is also a professional guitarist and singer — you can e-mail him at: jim@cathcart.com.

Category: Leadership Competencies

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About the Author: Jim Cathcart

Jim Cathcart is the bestselling author of 16 books and a hall of fame professional speaker.

He has worked with 2,700 clients worldwide over his 35 years as a trainer and consultant.

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  1. Jim’s straightforward view for determining when an executive is a good candidate to join a CEO Peer Group is very powerful.  As I was reading it, I thought how important a professional facilitator is to the forming and running of a high-value peer group.  The points Jim makes are almost a handbook for how we lead and develop our CEO Peer Groups in Orange County, CA.  Thanks Jim for your insight.

    Richard (Ric) Franzi

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