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CEO Insights

CEOs: Give the Gift of a Peer Group

Leo Bottary
Leo Bottary

In May 2020, I wrote a piece for CEOWORLD magazine directed to the CEOs of companies who were enjoying a boost in productivity from their remote workforce. At the time, many CEOs advocated looking at the whole chessboard before getting too excited. While productivity may have been up, savvy leaders recognized that there was a cost for this spike. While remote work is a conscious choice for many of today’s employees, the challenges remain. 

  1. Burnout – We Work Remotely (WWR) says that the boundary between work and home life blurs for people who work in the same place they sleep. As a result, they may feel pressure to be on when they should be off. 
  2. Obscurity – It can be hard enough for many employees to feel that anyone sees how hard they are working in the office, let alone while at home. Imagine how invisible one could be left to feel. 
  3. Isolation – Isolation is obscurity’s crazy cousin. As social beings, we can start to feel isolated and alone quickly – especially if we live alone. 
  4. Insulation – The more insulated we become, the more our thinking narrows and becomes siloed. We need outside stimulation.
  5. Depression (WWR) states, “Work-from-home depression can happen when you feel stuck. Without career milestones like a new nameplate on your desk or a fancy corner office, you may not feel as if you’re achieving as much as your peers. The anxiety, stress, and loneliness of working from home can lead to depression or make it worse.”

So, what’s a CEO to do in the new world of a distributed workforce? One solution that provides myriad benefits is investing in your executives by paying for them to join a peer advisory group or forum in their local community – ideally comprised of professionals from industry sectors different from their own and who meet regularly in person. It’s an option available today that you didn’t have during the pandemic because no one was convening in-person group meetings. 

Doing so will combat the five issues described above and serve as a robust investment in your key executives’ professional development and your organization’s growth. Here are 7 Cs for why:

  1. Connection – Forums are an excellent vehicle for creating connections among people who share common challenges yet might never otherwise find each other or be put in a situation where they could work together and help each other. 
  2. Comradery – Connections create the opportunity for building healthy relationships based on mutual respect, personally and professionally. This comradery is the foundation for sharing respective challenges and opportunities related to remote work and learning and development in general. 
  3. Collateral/Intentional Learning – Collateral learning is a unique outcome of group learning because it speaks to what we learn from how we learn. Group members billed muscles around being present, listening effectively, asking precise questions, suspending assumptions, and not jumping to conclusions or rushing to judgment. Since many groups have expert speakers covering contemporary leadership and business topics, the group helps one another learn more deeply. Moreover, they give each other the courage, encouragement, and confidence to apply what they learn and extend its reach by sharing with others in their organizations.   
  4. Collaboration – Group work helps members accept each other’s differences and appreciate their respective gifts in pursuit of sharing experiences, challenges, possibilities, and outcomes that inspire individual growth. It also helps them become better collaborators within their organization (another example of collateral learning).  
  5. Commitment – The investment you make in your key executive to be in a forum demonstrates your commitment to their growth and development and deepens their commitment to your organization. 
  6. Contribution – Group members contribute to one another’s growth and success whether the members are all remote workers or not – they learn from each other. As a result, they will bring more value to your company in terms of their newfound abilities to make a difference and because they will learn best practices from other industries unheard of in yours – yet you may find them extremely valuable.  
  7. Celebration – Being part of a group gives its members a place to celebrate their wins (big and small) in person with their fellow members. It helps them see the value of celebrating small victories, and as a result, they are likely to lead the way in doing so at your company.

Summary

It’s hard to beat all the currencies found in giving your key executives the gift of a peer group. Showing your remote executives (as well as key team members in-house) how much you care about their personal and professional development goes a long way. If the pandemic taught us anything, in today’s notoriously divisive world, the more we tap into our shared humanity and create forums for sharing, listening, and understanding, the better for all involved. 

Give it a try and watch what happens. By this time next year, the chances are good that you’ll be giving the gift of a peer advisory group to your full complement of key executives, realizing that everyone reaps the rewards.


Written by Leo Bottary.
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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - CEO Insights - CEOs: Give the Gift of a Peer Group
Leo Bottary
Leo Bottary is the founder and managing partner of Peernovation. He is a sought-after thought leader on Peer Advantage and Peernovation, emerging disciplines dedicated to strategically engaging peers to achieve personal and organizational excellence. A popular author of three books, including Peernovation: What Peer Advisory Groups Can Teach Us About Building High-performing Teams (Archway; October 16, 2020), he is also an author, keynote speaker, workshop facilitator, and thought leader on the topic of peer advantage.

Education
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) (ABD) in Organizational Leadership Studies at Northeastern University.
M.A. in Strategic Communication & Leadership at Seton Hall University.
B.A. in Political Science and German at Jacksonville University.

Books by Leo Bottary:
Peernovation: What Peer Advisory Groups Can Teach Us About Building High-performing Teams (Archway; October 16, 2020).
What Anyone Can Do: How Surrounding Yourself With the Right People Will Drive Change, Opportunity and Personal Growth (Routledge; September 3, 2018).
The Power of Peers: How the Company You Keep Drives Leadership, Growth & Success (Bibliomotion; March 22, 2016).

Leo Bottary is a member of the External Advisory Board (EAB) for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.