Sam Reese brings over 30 years of experience leading and advising senior leaders in complex organizations. As the CEO of Vistage Worldwide, Sam leads the world’s largest CEO membership advisory firm. Vistage members – 21,000 strong in 17 countries – gather in trusted, confidential peer advisory groups where they tackle their toughest challenges and biggest opportunities. Although Sam has been the CEO since 2016, he was a longtime Vistage member when he was with his previous company.
Brian Mac Mahon is the founder of Expert DOJO, the largest startup high performance center for entrepreneurs in Southern California. He has consulted and coached in over 35 countries and brings a global perspective to starting and growing your small business. For years Brian, has been teaching the power of connecting with your community and how to turn a pay it forward mindset into a revenue generator. He also speaks all over the world on how to start, grow and expand any business.
Robert H. Thompson, author of The Offsite: A Leadership Challenge Fable, is a sought-after speaker, executive coach, journalist and thought leader in his field. Founder of Applied Performance, a leadership communication services company, Robert’s clients have included AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, Johnson & Johnson, Lockheed Martin and others. Robert also is a senior consultant with the Tom Peters Company/UK. Before founding Applied Performance, Robert created, managed, and sold a successful regional newspaper publishing company as well as a national advertising sales company, which he guided to international prominence through relationships with Proctor and Gamble, General Motors, Bayer and other major corporations.
Claude Silver is VaynerMedia’s Chief Heart Officer, the capstone of a career focused on guiding client relationships, global brand strategies, operations, and management. An abiding passion for creating spaces in which people can thrive defined her previous leadership positions at JWT London, Publicis London, SAYMedia, and Organic, among others.
At VaynerMedia, Claude cultivates the heart(s) of the agency’s success: its people. With a purview that includes staff relations, development, recruitment, and retention, each practice is underscored by Claude’s drive to unlock the inner professional potential of every VaynerMedia employee.
Simon Alexander Ong works with leaders, entrepreneurs and teams who are ready and committed for the next level of their success. As a coach and business strategist, he helps them transcend perceived limitations, dream bigger than they’ve ever done before and to see how powerful and gifted they truly are. You can connect with him at SimonInspires.com.
A common topic of conversation in the peer group workshops I conduct is that CEOs and business leaders contend they don’t always find it easy to think of a subject or issue to raise with their peers during their monthly meeting. Among the five factors or five conditions necessary to a high performing peer group is fostering valuable interaction. The problem is, you can’t have valuable interaction if you don’t have anything to interact about.
Most members see the time they spend with their peer group as when they work on their business, rather than in their business. These meetings are designed to be spent tackling the larger strategic issues that don’t often their get their due during the course of a hectic work week. That being the case, if you don’t have a pressing business issue or opportunity to raise with your group, then work on your business by calling upon your list of what if?… questions (the list you should start today)!
It’s a basic crisis communication planning tool. You simply identify the crises that could shut down or severely disrupt your business, prioritize them by the amount of damage they could cause and the likelihood they could occur, and plan a strategy for how you would handle them. What if a natural disaster destroyed your headquarters? What if your right hand person left the company without warning? What if a new competitor entered your industry sector with a disruptive technology that threatened your very existence as an organization? Your what if?… questions could be framed as opportunities as well. For example, what if your biggest competitor when out of business?
Next time you’re stuck for an issue to discuss with your peer group, grab your list of what if?… questions and pick one. Your question will likely apply to everyone, and because of it, you’ll get the whole group started on developing the kind of comprehensive strategies that could save you, your fellow members, and their respective companies someday!
Leon Shapiro is the coauthor of The Power of Peers: How the Company You Keep Drives Leadership, Growth & Success and a director at The Advisory Board Company, a global research, technology and consulting firm that partners with more than 200,000 leaders in 4,100 organizations across health care and higher education. He also is the former CEO of Vistage Worldwide, an organization that assembles and facilitates peer advisory groups for CEOs and business leaders in the U.S and around the world.
Etienne Wenger-Trayner is a globally recognized thought leader in the field of social learning and communities of practice. He has authored and co-authored seminal articles and books including Situated Learning, where the term “community of practice” was coined; Cultivating Communities of Practice; and Digital Habitats, which tackles issues of technology, community, and what it means to be together.
Beverly Wenger-Trayner is a consultant specializing in social learning systems. Her work with international organizations such as the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the International Labor Organization, and The World Bank have given her substantial experience in coaching conveners and in supporting multi-lingual groups across cultures, time-zones, and geographic locations. She has published chapters and articles about learning in internationally distributed communities.
Their most recent work together is introduced in their latest book Learning In Landscapes of Practice.
In an episode of Inside Quest from October 2016, Simon Sinek discusses millennials in the workplace. As of today, the 15-minute video been viewed more than 5.4 million times. In January, he recorded a 9-minute follow-up video called More on the Millennial Question based on the feedback (positive and negative) that he’s received about his comments back in October. To his credit, Sinek has also asked for more feedback, so here it is.
Full disclosure, I enjoy Simon Sinek’s work. I’ve watched his videos, read his book Start with Why, and heard him speak live, where he was terrific. That said, the more popular he becomes, the greater his reach and the more weight his words carry. In my opinion, he needs to be more mindful of that.
In both videos, he makes important points about relationships, empathy, and leadership, which is laudable. The reason the first video got so much traction, however, is not because of the points he made, but because he decided to throw millennials under the bus for a cheap laugh. Sinek hit on all the stereotypes people have (particularly boomers) about millennials, and he reinforced a narrative that does more harm than good. Anyone smart enough to come up with the golden circle could have made his points without doing it on the backs of a generation.
By doing this, Simon Sinek sent a bad message – one that makes it okay for leaders to point fingers and make excuses, because we all know how those “entitled” millennials are and how tough they are to “manage.” Instead, he should have challenged leaders to dig deeper. That they consider taking a pause to listen and learn for understanding – to be curious. The more that leaders try to learn and the less they judge, the more likely they will discover the very best attributes of this generation and the individuals who comprise it. Sinek always talks about how leaders eat last. That’s fine, but that doesn’t mean the leader should poke fun at the employees in the food line.
Over the past few months I’ve recorded a number of podcasts with young people, all of whom are incredibly impressive. They are wise beyond their years and doing well for themselves and good for others. Now, I read their books and listen to their podcasts. They inspire this baby boomer each and every day. Meeting them and becoming more familiar with who they are and why they do what they do has been a gift.
On my podcast, you’ll hear from Vitaly M. Golomb (Feb. 16), Rahfeal Gordon (Feb. 23), and Bri Seeley and Thais Sky (March 30). Vitaly Golomb is an entrepreneur, author, and global start-up evangelist for HP Tech Ventures, where in addition to his job, he is passionate about his work helping entrepreneurs create business models for their ideas. He started as an intern in Silicon Valley at 13 and just released his first book, Accelerated Startup.
Rahfeal Gordon, who spent part of his childhood homeless, has written 14 books (including Skyscraper) and inspires people of all ages across the world, reminding them that their location is NOT their destination. I met him last year in Portugal. We remain friends, and I can’t imagine having a more positive force in my life.
Bri Seeley and Thais Sky founded a company in Los Angeles called The Amplify Collective – each own their own company as well. Check out their Be Amplified podcast). The Amplify Collective is dedicated to helping women come together at their un-networking events so they see one another as more than a title on a business card. Bri and Thais help women engage on a level of who they are, not simply what they do. Don’t be surprised if one of their events comes to your city soon.
All of them, each in their own way, are helping people establish the kind of deep, meaningful relationships that Simon Sinek said are so lacking among our young people. (Deep and meaningful relationships are too few in all generations, by the way). So if you watch Simon’s videos (or watch them again), I ask you to extract the good messages he has to share, and engage everyone in your life from a place of curiosity rather than judgment.
Image: Mirus Restaurant Solutions
This is Part III of a (somewhat accidental) series involving why peer groups work, how they work (the conditions necessary for their success), and at least one perspective about how they could be led – that would be this post!
In Part I, I offered an illustration of a reinforcing loop involving a process of learning, sharing, applying and achieving to show why peer groups work so well, not only when it comes to embedding what we learn, but also with giving us the courage to implement new strategies and actually benefit from them. Part II simply suggested that this process doesn’t happen unless you have the right people in the room, a safe/confidential environment, a process for interacting that brings value, a culture of peer-to-peer accountability, and good servant leadership.
In the book, The Power of Peers: How the Company You Keep Drives Leadership, Growth & Success, we don’t take a position on whether a group should be led by a professional facilitator, a member on a rotating basis, or anything that may fall in between. What we do suggest is that no matter who is in charge, the responsibilities are the same: to be sure the conditions or factors outlined in Part II are present, and that the group leader should maximize all the assets in the room to drive the reinforcing loop we described. The high performing groups we studied have this in common.
If you think of it visually, we didn’t see an all powerful leader who stands apart from the group, engaging in dyads with the members, each looking to the leader for guidance and support. Instead, we pictured a more participatory environment with the leader as a part of the group, using a triad model we picked up from a terrific book called Tribal Leadership and through conversations with one of its coauthors, Dave Logan.
With each entity accepting their role as “having the back” of the relationship and being accountable to one another, it allows everyone to extract the most value possible from the experience and ultimately serve everyone’s purpose for being there.
This “series” may have been a happy accident, but I hope it was an informative one. Please share your thoughts and experiences on any aspect of this in the comments section. Thank you!