Key Executive Groups: The Best Kept Secret of CEO’s

They say it’s lonely at the top. Nobody can relate to that statement more than CEO’s and other C-level executives. But what many don’t know is that there is a platform where they can alleviate that loneliness: key executive groups. A place where non-competing executives can meet and get advice on issues they’re facing.

One such group is Vistage Worldwide – the world’s leading CEO and senior executive membership organization. We spoke to Jed Daly, chair of Vistage, on the Cerius Business Today podcast on how key executive groups can help CEO’s succeed.

How key executive groups work

Once a month, senior business executives get together in a room and discuss work and problems they may be dealing with. Because they do not compete or work with each other, there is an open and safe atmosphere in the room where the only agenda is to help each other make the best possible decisions.

The reason you probably haven’t heard about key executive groups is because they depend on word-of-mouth marketing. If you or somebody you know is in the C-suite, you’ve might’ve heard of it. As Jed says, “For a 60-year-old organization with 22,000 members around the world, it’s an amazingly well-kept secret.”

The no-agenda space in key executive groups

One of the biggest attractions in groups like Vistage is the agenda-free environment. CEO’s who are having issues in managing people or have to make an impactful decision have no one to talk to without affecting the internal dynamics of their organization.

Jed explains how no agenda helps executives open up: “Peer groups provide a place where you can talk about all these things and do that in an environment that is safe and confidential. In it you can take off your suit of shining armor, and have a real conversation about the things that really matter.”

Not only does a safe, confidential space help you speak candidly, but you get advice with real value and authenticity. A CFO talking to a CMO in a group can get insight on what it costs to run a social media campaign and the factors that raise expenses – information they would otherwise be hesitant about asking their own CMO, for fear of offending them or crossing boundaries.

Changing perspectives in key executive groups

Meeting people who agree with you and have the same background as you, doesn’t increase your knowledge. But on the other hand, sitting on a table with people with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives forces you to challenge your outlook and learn new things.

“You’re going to find people pushing you outside of your comfort zone and challenging what you really believe,” says Jed. “Pushing yourself outside of that comfort zone sometimes means talking about things that maybe are a little foreign to you, and that can feel unsafe. That’s where the power comes in. That’s where the value comes.”

Engaging with people from different functions also allows you to broaden your horizon. It accelerates learning and helps executives gain a better understanding of the roles played by their counterparts and colleagues. Key groups are a great place to exchange notes and learn new skills.

Continue their growth through key executive groups

“Studies show that once employees feel that they’re being paid a market rate and a fair deal from a monetary standpoint, what keeps them engaged and keeps them sticky are their opportunities to grow; to develop and become better executives, and better human beings. And a Vistage key executive group is a perfect environment and a very inexpensive way for a CEO to accomplish that goal,” says Jed.

After a long time, America is reaching full employment in the economy creating more options for employees. To prevent them from leaving, you need to give them opportunities that allow them to continue growing and stay challenged.

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