Even as children we have been deeply influenced by our peers. As we grow older changing trends and peer pressure mark our actions, behaviors and even our thought processes. When it comes to business leaders it can be quite lonely at the top. Associates and employees who surround them day in and day out may make a great team but could be poor companions for creative rejuvenation. It is here that peer groups come in as handy alternatives for the leaders who want to take their thoughts and organizations to new heights in the future.
A peer group is a gathering or informal organization of like-minded individuals who may be in similar leadership positions but come from non-competitive business streams. This is particularly important for peer groups are formed to foster creativity, new ideas and rejuvenate business minds and not become a forum for underhanded tactics, misuse of information and create conflict of interests. The groups usually meet in regular intervals to share ideas, discuss issues, and give advice and opinions on each other’s problems. Entrepreneurs and business leaders not only turn to their peers for such advice or opinions but they also meet to collectively and cohesively work on marketing campaigns and influence way local or even national businesses will progress.
While there are many peer groups and the underlying stream of thought is same in all, it is important to understand that each group has its own personality. It is shaped by the nature and characters of its members, their interests and capabilities and also proceeds to influence the business community in a way its leaders influence their own spheres. It is therefore easy to surmise that each of these groups will operate in different ways and follow their own, different set of rules. No two individuals are alike so no two peer groups will operate in the same way.
The importance of peer groups can truly be defined and understood when one gauges the extent of influence it has over its members. And this influence is not through mere advice but a steep learning curve which is associated with them. Leaders and executives can interact with fellow leaders and managers; foster a creative atmosphere which thrives with new ideas and knowledge, transfer collective peer experience to direct individual learning experience. One learns to leverage great ideas and advice and apply it to their own business models and issues and derive practical solutions for their problems.
One very important aspect of all peer groups is objectivity. You cannot get this objectivity from your friends, family, associates and employees because they are all professionally and personally entwined in your business and you. But when it comes to your peers you will get opinions which are not clouded by involvement, which are not judgmental because there are no similarities and no negativity because there is no profit or completion involved.
While peer groups usually appoint leaders amongst themselves no one individual remains leader for long. The professional peer groups should have one leader who is not vested as a member. This provides an unbiased leadership experience for all peers which motivate them to perform better in their own spheres. And because peers meet to share issues as well as important industry trends confidentiality of each group is very important. It creates a sense of camaraderie and belonging which completely mitigates the isolation that most leaders feel in their individual spheres of work.
Gary Takacs is the founder of The CEO University is a US-based, CEO and Executive Peer Group Organization that creates opportunities for accelerated business growth and personal development through CEO Peer Group Meetings that are CEO-led, one-to-one mentoring focused on unique business and personal challenges, and purposeful learning events.