From Nina Atwood, Vistage Chair:
I have been running a group of CEOs plus a group of key level executives for Vistage for eight years, and I can tell you that there isn’t a month that goes by without someone walking away from a meeting with a better idea than the ones he or she walked into the door with that day. The power of peer feedback is immense – and here’s why.
It doesn’t matter how successful you are or how many years you have been successful, you share one thing with every other leader out there – you have a “blind spot.” That’s right, you don’t know what you don’t know – and we call that your blind spot. People around you see things about how you run your business that you do not, and often those people are your employees and key executives. Why don’t they speak up and tell you? For one reason – they are not your peers. They have too much at stake to directly contradict you. So they will tell you some things, and they will withhold other things, no matter how many times you tell them you want them to be candid with you. And there are many, many more things that neither they nor you will see in advance. It’s the nature of business today – highly complex and constantly changing. The demands placed on your time and energy are unprecedented.
Imagine that you are sitting in a board room today, and picture yourself surrounded by other CEOs, Presidents, and business owners – of substantial businesses with many employees and complex demands. These folks have no stake in your game – they can afford to be totally honest with you, and they want only your greater success. Now picture yourself discussing one of your top business concerns – something that you must make a decision about and act on in the next 30 to 60 days. Now imagine your peers asking you relevant, penetrating questions – questions that help you uncover something highly important to the success of your initiative. And then imagine that at the end of the discussion – a candid, unvarnished discussion (remember, these folks have no stake in your game and can afford to be completely candid) – you have new solutions that go a step or two beyond where you were going prior to the discussion. Then, a few days later, you sit down with your Vistage executive coach (that’s me) and flesh out your strategy in detail. Later, you share with the group the success you achieved as a result of their candid feedback. That’s what we do every month, and so much more.
You could fit in with this group, if you are the decision maker for a business and you have these traits:
- You realize that you do not have all the answers
- You are interested in learning and growth as a leader
- You are “up to something” – you want to grow your business, make it more profitable, develop a succession plan, take it to a rewarding transaction, the next level, etc.
- Your values include care, transparency, and the desire to contribute to others
Notice that I did not say “has the time available to commit to the meetings.” That’s because – like you – none of my members has the time to do Vistage. They are not the stereotypical media image of a CEO – hitting the links every day, slamming down martinis at lunch for two hours. They work hard, just like you do. But because they have directly experienced the Vistage advantage, they MAKE the time for meetings. Because of the coaching and development they have gotten from Vistage, they HAVE more time, greater work/life balance. They work smarter, and you can, too.
Here’s how to get involved:
First, understand that it is a process to become a member. You must be right for this group, and there must be sufficient value in being a member of Vistage for you to make the time and pay the dues. That means we must discuss you and your business in detail. The first step is a 15 minute phone call. It could be one of the most valuable 15 minutes you ever invest in your business, so take those few minutes and contact me about your introduction to Vistage.
Now let me tell you about my group. They run businesses in health care, construction, manufacturing, distribution, financial services, and telecom. Their companies range from around five million in sales to over two hundred million, with one company around four billion in sales. But what’s most important is who they are: a group of dedicated, committed, caring individuals. Keep scrolling down for comments from some of the members of Vistage Chief Executive Group 641, and more about Vistage. (Note: because these companies are private and closely held I have omitted identifying information; you will be given their names and businesses privately once we make contact.) Finally, if you are not right for our group, I will make sure you are introduced to another Vistage Chair to see if that group fits you better.
Yours in Success,
Vistage Chair of CE Group 641 and Key Executive Group 9031
Recipient of Vistage Chair Excellence Award
Vistage Chair Mentor – mentored three Dallas Chairs to successful launch
More about Nina
How Vistage Works
- Monthly peer group meetings; eight per year with keynote level speakers presenting three hour in-depth content on a specific business best practice
- All monthly group meetings include a forum for getting feedback on specific issues and opportunities brought by the members
- One monthly meeting per year is a retreat
- Monthly two hour one-to-one with Chair
- Online webinars, white papers, and articles covering every business best practice imaginable, through www.vistage.com
- Membership in the worldwide community of over twelve thousand Vistage members with access to them for networking and ideas
Vistage members know what it takes to take their businesses to the next level. In a recent analysis, Vistage CEO member companies significantly outperformed the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of the average Dun & Bradstreet U.S. company from 2005 to 2009.
From My Vistage Group:
Membership has helped me move from working in the business to working on the business. No one taught me the job of a CEO, and Vistage has helped me define what my role should be going forward. I have received valuable feedback on a number of issues that have either encouraged me on the path I was taking, or helped me to see that another path would be better. The people in our particular group are bright, motivated, caring individuals who, when they are in a meeting, care more about giving to others than they do about receiving help themselves. There is a wide range of businesses and backgrounds, which makes the mix that much better. Finally, I have found some great consultants and outside help from other members of the group as well as the speakers we have had. Nina’s individual coaching has a way of enabling me to hold myself more accountable, as crazy as that sounds. No one wants to commit do doing something and not get it done. Also, most of my most troubling problems, and I don’t think I am very different from anyone else, tend to be people problems. Nina has wonderful insight into people, and has provided great counseling on how to manage some of those problems.
Mark, runs $200M construction services company
I have been a member of Vistage for several years now. I am the owner of a small manufacturing business. I did not own a business. Really, it owned me. My goal is to build a business that does not require my full time attention and continue to grow and improve. By being a member of Vistage, at least one day a month for several years, I have forced myself to think about the bigger, strategic picture of my business. Vistage has provided me with guidance (both personal and business), information, tools, and at times motivation to achieve my goal. As a result, my business has grown 30% in revenue and profits. The bigger benefit I am seeing is my personal growth in changing from a line manager where I was directly responsible for everything and rarely looked strategically into the future. I feel like I have changed from being run by my company into running the company.
Rick, runs $12M manufacturing company
My first thought when approached to join was that I don’t have time to commit to one day per month. I now believe in the importance of spending this time to develop both the business and myself. The day flies by and I find myself looking forward to the next meeting. There aren’t many monthly meetings I can say that about. My second thought was whether I could spend an entire day with a group of CEOs. By the end of the first day I knew I was in the right place. The group is relaxed, but also very engaged when trying to help a member. There are no softball questions tossed at you. They are pointed questions and often the ones that we all try to hide in the back of our minds. By the end of an issue the solution is pretty obvious. I have seen positive outcomes for my business and also got to hear feedback from others about how without Vistage they couldn’t have solved the issue. Nina keeps the meeting on track and assures that the meeting will be as fulfilling to the members as possible. I am sure that is a challenge with a group of strong personalities. I feel like she respects our time and takes responsibility to help the members make the most of one on ones and group meetings. Like anyone it is easy to look backwards and second guess a decision. I never have with my decision to join Vistage.