Leo & Randy On Great Groups

Today’s show is a discussion on Leo’s latest CEOWORLD column, Ten Attributes of a Great CEO Peer Group. They are:

  1. Having the right people in the room 
  2. Being truly committed to their fellow members 
  3. “Leveraging” their safe environment
  4. Being prepared to play 
  5. Being relentlessly patient with asking questions 
  6. Bringing important topics to the conversation 
  7. Understanding how to get the most from the group
  8. Being willing to challenge one another from a place of caring
  9. Accepting personal responsibility for your role
  10. Outstanding leadership

Leo will be keynoting in Oslo, Norway on August 28th at the 2019 Executive Growth Alliance Summit

Leo’s books – The Power of Peers and What Anyone Can Do

Leo’s speaking and workshops

Randy’s small business owner peer advisory group, The Peer Advantage

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Connect with Leo on Linkedin | Twitter

Connect with Randy on Linkedin | Twitter

Vested Interest. Positive or Negative?

It’s funny how language can inspire aha moments.  I love Sekou Andrews‘ work for that reason, because for me, he offers much more than clever turns of phrase.  When you unpack his brand of poetry, there’s always such rich meaning to be extracted if you take the time to do so. He has since inspired me to look for that deeper meaning no matter who mouths the words.

So during a workshop I conducted for a Vistage Emerging Leaders Group in San Antonio today, one of the members shared that the group was incredibly effective because the members had grown to develop a “vested interest” in the outcome for each of their member’s actions.  I immediately asked, “What do you mean by that?”

To digress for a moment, I’d like you to consider my frame of reference for asking the question.  When I grew up learning this stuff during my early days with Vistage, part of the value proposition was that CEOs and business leaders could meet with peers who had no “vested interest” in the outcome – meaning they had no financial or professional skin in the game.  The point was that they could receive impartial advice from people who knew exactly what it was like to sit in their chair and who had nothing to gain one way or the other.

The vested interest the member was referring to today was quite different. It was vested interest of a higher order.  It had nothing to do with personal gain.  It had to do with the emotional connection they’ve developed for one another when it comes to wins and losses.  While members may join a group without having a vested interest in their fellow members’ outcomes, one could argue that, over time, acquiring this brand of vested interest makes the group that much better.  If you think about it, this is exactly what every peer group should be shooting for.

Sekou says, “Tapping into the collective intelligence makes our whole greater than the sum of our smarts.”  I learn something new every time I work with a new group.  That’s why I love doing it so much!  A big thanks to Sekou Andrews and to everyone who challenges us to think about the world a little differently.

 

 

 

 

The Yin & Yang of Mastermind Groups

In recent weeks, I’ve updated the original presentation of the five factors common to high performing groups (The Power of Peers, 2016) from a list to a reinforcing loop.  Also, after leading workshops for more than 100 mastermind groups over the past few years, it’s become clear that if an individual member wants to drive higher group performance, then that member needs to Show Up, Step Up, and Follow-Up.  I invite you review these two articles.

There’s a third dimension at play here as well, and that’s the yin and yang relationship of factors 2 and 3 – an environment that’s safe/confidential and one that fosters valuable interaction.  One provides emotional safety, while the other supports intellectual dialogue that offers valuable outcomes critical to delivering member value.  You simply can’t have one without the other.  And without one you have neither.  These forces are not opposite so much as interdependent.  Hence the reference to the Daoist concept of Yin & Yang.

The safer people feel in their group meeting and the more they are willing to leverage that safe environment, the more likely the larger, deeper, and more important topics (challenges and opportunities, personal and professional) will come to the forefront.  You can’t have valuable interaction if you don’t have anything valuable to interact about.  Deep conversations, on the other hand, inspire trust and increase emotional safety.

If generally speaking, you believe your group meeting to be a safe and confidential setting, then challenge yourself to leverage that environment more fully.  It’s not unlike being at a spa that has a magnificent pool, full of restorative power.  The thing is, only total immersion will provide the maximum benefit.  Looking at the pool from your lounge chair or sticking your toes in the water isn’t going to cut it.  It won’t work in your group either.  By being one who willingly shares and empathetically listens, you’ll encourage others to do the same through the sheer power of your example. You’ll see the trust grow and the dialogue improve.  Just watch.

The rich dialogue that can take place in a mastermind group is what pushes us to be better, both emotionally and intellectually.  Participating in these conversations by bringing your whole self, is an act of both generosity and courage.  It’s the Dao (or the way) of high performing mastermind groups.

Enjoy!

On Great Books

If you’re writing and speaking more than you’re reading and listening, it’s time to right the ship!  Here are three books you’ll love!  When you don’t have immediate access to the right people directly, you can still surround yourself with their ideas!  Enjoy!

Amazon links to the books (not affiliate links):

Cracking the Curiosity Code: The Key to Unlocking Human Potential by Diane Hamilton

Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement by Rich Karlgaard

Lifescale: How to Live a More Creative, Productive, and Happy Life by Brian Solis

What The Power of Peers Taught Us About High Performing Teams

When Leon Shapiro and I tackled the subject of how and why formal peer groups for CEOs and business leaders work so well in The Power of Peers, our research revealed two important findings: 1) The Learning-Achieving Cycle  common to high performing groups; and, 2) What we called the Five Factors necessary for making the Learning-Achieving reinforcing loop possible.

After conducting nearly 100 self-assessment workshops for peer groups since the book was published, I’ve learned that the Five Factors are more than just components of a condition, they are a system onto themselves.  What’s more, this system (with minor modifications) provides insights into what drives high performing teams.

The five factors were originally presented independently (reinforcing one another of course) yet described as if one had little to do with the other. The Five Factors included: 1) Having the right people in the room (people who share common values and a purpose for being in the group, yet who are diverse in their own ways); 2) A Safe and Confidential Environment – a place where one feels safe to be open and vulnerable and where confidentiality is sacrosanct; 3) Valuable interaction – while providing emotional safety is critical, here we talked about the quality of the topics discussed, the discipline of asking great questions, and the tangible outcomes realized by the group members; 4) Accountability – not accountability to the leader of the group, but to the other members – a solemn promise to one another to be present and bring their A games to each and every meeting; 5) Having a smart guide, someone who served as a servant leader of the group and as the steward of the other four factors.

Today, I see the Five Factors not simply as overlapping, but as a system, much like the Learning-Achieving Cycle:

 It starts off with having the right people, who come to know each other and trust one another enough to feel safe.  This feeling of safety inspires and enables deeper conversations about the kind of serious topics that all too often never happen in the context of our daily lives.  As group members grow to care about one another and their respective aspirations, it inspires each of them to bring their A games to every meeting, knowing that their colleagues are prepared to do the same.  Their currency with one another lies in this place where everyone helps each other achieve new heights.  The smart guide’s role as the servant leader is essentially to serve as the steward of the other four factors by driving this reinforcing loop.  He/she makes sure that the group is always populated with people who add value, that the safe environment is never taken for granted, that members come prepared to share their toughest challenges and greatest opportunities, and that a context which allows for a culture of growing group accountability is able to flourish.

So you may be asking the same thing I did:  Do these five group factors, presented as a reinforcing loop, apply to teams and offer guidance to team leaders?   With some minor adjustments, I believe they do.  Here’s how it plays out for teams:

At your company, it’s about more than hiring good people, it’s about securing the right people.  This involves understanding the difference between those who succeed at your company and those who don’t – despite their impressive resume and amazing interviewing skills.  Having the right people is great, but now you have to get them to work together, which involves getting them to know and trust one another.

Once you have that, you can start looking at how you can help this team achieve higher levels of productivity and commitment to excellence.  As a leader, think of tending a garden.  Your job is to provide the right amount of water, sunlight, food, etc. to make your garden flourish.  If you notice a plant not growing to its potential in one part of the garden, you move it to a better spot.  I’ll take the gardener over the command and control leader any day – and so will your employees.

Now that your team is productive and they realize they can achieve a level of excellence that can only be obtained by working together, they drive each other’s level of performance to new heights, making the team as a whole that much stronger.  The team leader plays the same role as the smart guide, serving as the steward of the other four factors, continually driving the reinforcing loop.

The best teams I’ve studied from business and in sports have all of these factors firing on all cylinders. Don’t let this throw you for a reinforcing loop!  Think about how these factors play into your organizational teams and tell us what you find out!

The Gift Of Feedback

When you receive feedback (positive or negative), see it as the gift that it is. Use it as fuel for reflection and continuous improvement.  Anyone who is great at anything is a product of people who were generous enough to provide them feedback along their learning journey.  We believed the message to be so important, we’re posting it a day early!  Enjoy!

Debunking Myths

Here’s the link to the article, “Put Your Best Foot Forward” published by The Smart Manager, Jan/Feb 2019!

The Circl.es Edition

Today’s show is quite literally a roundtable discussion – a circle of people sharing experience and insight. Participating are Karen Floyd, Ryan Foland, Rahfeal Gordon and Dan Hoffman. Dan is the founder and CEO of Circl.es, a company that builds software, programs, and workshops that make it easier for teams to connect meaningfully and grow faster. We’re showcasing the platform today because we love it so much. We hope you’ll check it out if you want to foster deeper, more meaningful collaboration inside or outside your organization.

Stuck in the shallow end of the pool?

If you’re trying to get your entire body wet, staying in the shallow end of the pool isn’t going to get the job done, no matter how long you stand there. Nor will showing up to participate in your CEO or executive peer advisory group without being completely open and willing to be vulnerable about issues pertaining to your life and your business. If you go into it halfway, you’ll never realize the full benefits that come with being a group member.

Since late last year, I’ve been conducting workshops with peer advisory groups across the country, working with CEOs, small business owners, and other senior leaders.   During these workshops, I essentially facilitate a group self-evaluation using the five factors from The Power of Peers: How the Company You Keep Drives Leadership, Growth & Success.  From there, we develop an action plan for driving even higher group performance.  (I also encourage the group members to facilitate a very similar exercise with the teams back at their companies).

The five factors or conditions we found to be common to high performing groups and teams include: 1) selecting the right people, 2) having an environment of mutual respect and trust (one that makes personal vulnerability possible), 3) fostering valuable group/team interaction, 4) inspiring a belief in the power of peer-to-peer accountability, and 5) having servant leadership that cultivates the other four factors.

When it comes to peer advisory groups, members typically score “the group” high when it comes to creating and sustaining an environment of mutual respect and trust.  They understand that without it, nothing else in possible.  What some members admit, however, in a moment of self-reflection, is that just because the water is warm and inviting, doesn’t mean they aren’t more comfortable in the shallow end of the pool.

For those members, I would say three things:

1) Cut yourself a break.  At least you’re in the pool.  At least you’re part of a peer advisory group and on the path toward going deeper.

2) Growing as a leader and as a person involves stepping outside your comfort zone once in awhile.

3) Take it one step at a time.  Challenge yourself to reveal a little bit more of who you are during each and every meeting.  Follow the lead of those who are more comfortable talking about sensitive issues and see the value they receive from having deep exchanges versus surface ones.   Notice how much easier it is to identify the root cause of a challenge when someone is being completely open in describing it.

Stand alone in the shallow end and you’re far more likely to drown there than if you go to the deep end.  Why?  Because your members are in the deep end waiting for you, and they would never let that happen.