CEO peer groups are organizations of business leaders who meet to discuss and work through issues faced exclusively by CEOs. They can vary from relatively informal online groups to intensive in-person seminars, with the goal being to share knowledge and help members become more successful leaders.
Being a CEO can be both exhilarating and isolating. You are responsible for the success of your company. Even if you have assembled a strong team to help run your business, the last word on any major decision is yours. There may be a number of people depending on you to consistently do the right thing, and the pressure can be intense.
Sharing your experience with people who know what it takes to be a CEO can be critical to your continued success. CEO peer groups can provide sounding boards for your decisions, and other members can bring a wealth of prior experience, advice from people who've "been there."
The best CEO peer groups allow the free exchange of ideas in a critical but non-judgemental environment. That balance is key, as you need to have the freedom to share your thoughts while knowing you'll get honest, useful feedback, with the critique being addressed to the issue and not the person.
While it's good to keep up on the state of your industry in general, the best CEO advisory peer groups are made up of leaders within your or a closely related industry who aren't direct competitors, as you'd likely be unable to fully share your issues if you felt they'd be potentially used as a competitive advantage. In the best case your CEO peer group will allow you and other like-minded leaders to remain at the forefront of your industry.
Often the only people who really understand what a CEO is going through are other CEOs. While you have support staff in place, you're the leader, and the ultimate success of your company falls on your shoulders. Through your CEO organization you can openly speak about the stresses of being a leader and both get support and advice and provide support to other CEOs in your group.
Sharing issues can also let you know that you're not alone, that others have successfully faced challenges that at one time seemed insurmountable. You can also share your experiences and how you negotiated them with other, less-seasoned CEOs.
It can be tough to work through all the potential outcomes of a business solution when those outcomes are happening in real life. CEO peer groups can provide a laboratory environment in which you can present the issue, then work through potential solutions and their related challenges without real-world fallout.
This environment also allows you the opportunity to be wrong and to learn from your mistakes without ramifications. You and your peer group can examine a number of potential solutions and you can decide on the best one to apply to your organization.
Regardless of whether you're a hands-on CEO of a small to medium-sized business or a "big-picture" leader of a large corporation, you're still neck-deep in your company and its issues. It's not easy to emotionally distance yourself from your organization, to see the issue in question without a natural bias.
This is perhaps the greatest benefit of CEO peer groups - exploring your company's issues with supportive people who aren't emotionally invested and can see possible solutions completely clearly. Maybe you're unsure about an overdue restructuring that may shake up your team; it can be difficult to remove yourself and see what's best for your company. CEO peer groups can provide an objective opinion.
- Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO)
- 10x Factory
- Young President's Organization (YPO)
- Young Entrepreneurs Council (YEC)
CEO networking is a lot less formal and open to all types of CEOs, while CEO peer groups are curated, consisting of CEOs who have attained a similar level of success. While CEO networking events can be a great way to meet others who may be turn out to be your peers, the best CEO peer groups are highly-focused on real issues faced by leaders of a similar stature.
Learn more with our list of top 5 advantages to joining CEO peer groups.
In order to provide the best experience for their members, CEO peer groups often have strict requirements for acceptance; for example, some peer groups require that potential members' businesses must make a minimum of $1,000,000.00 per year. This ensures that the group members will be operating at the same level and facing the same types of issues.
Read about the top 5 advantages to joining CEO peer groups.
Be prepared to both share and listen. You're with a group of people who've achieved a similar level of success, so you can learn as much from helping another leader through a problem as working through one of your issues. You may find yourself taking on the roles of mentor and mentee in different situations, which will aid in your ability to think creatively.
It depends on the group, but interactions can vary from access to a global, 24/7 online network in which member CEOs can share knowledge regardless of time or location to multi-day in-person seminars with guest speakers and intensive group problem-solving sessions. CEO peer groups can also consist of a combination of online and in-person interactions.
Learn more with our list of the top 5 advantages of joining CEO peer groups.