6 reasons why CEOs should join a peer advisory group

Imagine hiking a mountain from base to summit. During steep ascents, you may have moments of doubt. During long, flat stretches, you can catch your breath … but loneliness can set in. And what if there’s a dramatic change in weather, or danger presents itself?

Every expert mountaineer knows you should never go it alone. You’ll climb higher and go further with an experienced team. Plus, it’s a whole lot more rewarding to share the journey with peers you trust and respect.

The same is true in business.

Throughout my career, I’ve had the pleasure of working with peak performers — leaders of small and midsize businesses who want to take their companies to the next level. In fact, it’s how I first discovered CEO peer advisory two decades ago.

Peer advisory groups are like sounding boards. Business leaders from a range of industries and backgrounds come together to troubleshoot issues, share best practices and receive and offer unbiased feedback with an experienced mentor leading the charge. It’s like having your own personal climb team on your leadership journey.

If you’re looking to scale to a higher elevation in business and life, here are the top 6 time-honored benefits I’ve seen great leaders gain from CEO peers:

1. Gain perspective

World-class leaders seek diverse perspectives on important decisions from trusted peers. They find other CEOs and business leaders who’ve tackled similar issues in different industries. These peers understand the nuances and challenges of the C-suite and bring fresh perspectives unhampered by institutional knowledge. Hearing from CEOs outside their company and industry allows leaders to honestly share any challenges and receive genuine, objective and unbiased feedback.

2. Combat insular thinking and confirmation bias

Great leaders are high on curiosity and low on ego. These leaders are the first to admit they don’t have all the answers and also the ones who believe most that a breakthrough is on the horizon. They are inquisitive, welcome new ideas from trusted sources that challenge their thinking, and are eager to explore.

Confirmation bias can occur when leaders have already made up their minds about a situation and then seek out answers that validate their point of view. Peer advisory groups help leaders to actively work to prevent that from happening, as CEOs come together with those who they know will challenge their position.

3. Think bigger

Leading people and teams can too often be focused on the most pressing issue of the moment, instead of the big picture. Maybe it’s replacing a key hire, launching a new product, reducing costs, or chasing incremental growth. Taking time away from day-to-day operations allows leaders to step back and focus on key strategic decisions with peers.

4. Learn more, faster

One of the most powerful tools in peer advisory groups is an exponentially expanded knowledge base. Listening to different approaches, perspectives and experts can encourage leaders to think outside the box. When CEOs make a deliberate effort to learn from those with diverse backgrounds and experiences, they can tap into new ways of thinking — fresh perspectives that challenge the status quo.

5. Get under the issue

Some leaders may discover that they are thinking about a challenge in a way that doesn’t get to the true underlying issue. If you tell a friend you have an issue with delegating assignments, they might give you a new technique to try. However, a well-trained coach will listen closely and ask great questions that get to the root of what’s holding you back.

6. Give and take

As a Vistage member, I’ve learned as much from listening to others process their issues, as I have from seeking input. When you’re listening closely to others, it often unlocks a solution for your business that you might not have considered.

While you can certainly attempt to hike a formidable mountain on your own, it’s good to know you have options. If your goal was to climb Mt. Everest, you’d hire a guide and climb with a team who knows the mountain and supports your journey. World-class leaders understand the same is true in business.

Peer advisory groups equip CEOs and business owners with the tools, resources and guidance so they can make great decisions. Leaders who surround themselves with executive peers who offer differing points of view — and push them to achieve their next peak of success — create a fundamental condition for leadership growth.

This story first appeared in ACBJ.