Giving and Getting Respect: The Importance of an Honest Environment
It’s often said, “two minds are better than one.” We at Vistage have found this to be the case. But in order to get two or more minds working together productively, the right environment must be present. While each Executive Peer Group has its own intricacies and idiosyncrasies, in my experience, the words that describe the best learning environments are open and honest.
In order to foster an open and honest environment, every member must practice respect for their peers.
Building On Cornerstones
As top executives from various industries, Vistage members know all about weathering the winds of change. That is why the constants that underlie an Executive Peer Group are so important; be it through rough waters or smooth sailing, executives enjoy a level of comfort from knowing their peer group is a place to turn to where their problems, comments, concerns and solutions will be evaluated with respect. The foundation for this mutual respect originates with the principle that if peers come together for frank discussion, all parties stand to benefit.
Asking Better Questions
One of the most valuable lessons executives learn from peer group exchanges is how to ask the right questions. Sometimes, an issue that appears simple on the surface is symptomatic of a deeper, more serious problem; sometimes an executive cannot clearly identify the problem they face or other times the issue they want to tackle is not truly “their issue” at all.
In all of these situations, having others around to challenge and guide an executive with questions can lead to personal growth and better leadership – for all involved.
Open And Honest: The Magic Words
This is only possible if the person bringing the problem to the group is willing to share the whole story and the other members are willing to devote their energy to offering the best guidance and solutions they can according to their experience.
This can be an uncomfortable role reversal for some leaders. Often within their own business environment, executives are expected to be the person with all the answers. At Vistage, through the open dialogue that takes place at our tables, leaders get the chance to step back, admit what they don’t know, and learn how to devise better solutions. Most importantly, they practice analyzing situations and asking deeper questions before launching into problem-solving mode.
What You Bring To The Table
In addition, we expect executives to come ready to listen to the other members. Looking at problems through more than one lens with the input of others can help an executive identify multiple, and sometimes better, courses of action.
Once again, this analysis is only made possible by the fact that in our meetings, peers are encouraged to offer constructive criticism. Being able to openly consider the advice of others, even when it flies in the face of one’s own choices, is an integral part to the self-improvement process: one only possible when all members are committed to operating in an open, honest, and respectful environment.