If you’re a CEO or President of a company, a peer group can be a really valuable asset because it a) provides networking opportunities, b) provides outside perspective on strategy, and c) allows you to help others. But peer groups aren’t effective at developing an executive’s leadership competencies. There are a number of reasons for this.
The first reason relates to the fact that leadership competencies are developed over time. It takes regular focus to break ineffective habits and form new, effective ones. Meeting once a month in a round-table setting with big-picture discussions just can’t address someone’s specific development needs.
The second reason relates to assessment. Peer groups aren’t designed to assess a leader’s strengths and weaknesses. The group can only discuss issues that someone brings to the table, and of us are poor at assessing the quality of our leadership abilities. In fact, I’ve never met an executive who thought they were a poor leader. Yet, we all know many executives who are poor leaders! This reality makes leadership development in a peer group pretty much impossible.
The third reason relates to blind spots. We all have them regardless of experience, intelligence and/or education. Peer groups can help point out strategic blind spots, but aren’t very good at pointing out leadership blind spots. It really takes someone working closely, one-on-one with a leader to spot them and bring them to light.
A fourth reason that peer groups aren’t effective at leadership development relates to personal productivity. Group discussions can be good for high-level topics pertaining to business strategies, but they don’t lend themselves to improving day-to-day functioning. Leaders need objective input from someone who has insight into how they function at work in order to improve productivity.
What then, is the best course of action for leadership development? It used to be mentoring by fellow executives – getting insights and guidance from someone in the company who could share the benefit of their years of experience. Unfortunately, because of cost-cutting and increased work load, those days are gone.
Instead, many executives turn to executive coaching to provide the assessment, insight, and guidance needed to improve. Peer groups have their place, but for personal development, one-on-one work is the most effective. If you’d like help in developing your leadership effectiveness and would find a confidential, objective sounding board useful, please give us a call at 503-928-7685.