"In my experience as a senior executive in the competitive and fast-paced sporting goods industry, I have seen my share of good leaders.


Tough Love in a Safe Space: Hard Work Yields Powerful Results at Vistage Meetings


Vistage Groups aim to bring out the best in CEOs across many fields of business. Although these individuals come from diverse backgrounds, and all have unique skillsets, each person must carry their own weight within the Group to maximize their gains as a leader. Part of that weight means executives need to exercise critical thinking, practice full disclosure, and be held accountable. It is also the willingness to give and take constructive criticism.

Being Critical and Thinking Critically

Part of challenging oneself and others to improve as leaders is developing the ability to calmly handle criticism and leverage it into positive results. Think of Vistage Meetings as a “gym” where leaders “work out” their leadership skills to overcome business challenges. Learning to accept constructive comments is a skill that requires long-term commitment and practice.

With practice, a great leader learns to accept that others’ differing perspectives are valuable learning opportunities, and they will listen actively to that end. Likewise, Executive Peer Group Members must step into the meeting room with the mindset that they too will provide fellow members with the best advice they can offer.

In order for the Vistage “gym” to work, business leaders must be ready to dedicate time and energy to work on their business and to help their peers find solutions to their toughest challenges. Working collaboratively to help one another is one of the most effective ways to grow as a leader.

Open, Honest & Full Disclosure

Sometimes, the simplest advice rings true; “honesty is the best policy” is the best grade-school advice that works in every situation, especially in a peer group setting. To foster a give-and-take environment, all parties must come to the table willing to share intimately. Full disclosure is necessary for coaching: the right solutions only emerge when the whole story is on the table and each member is giving their honest response to the situation. Holding back on context or on one’s opinion leaves the deep-rooted information unspoken and unresolved.


Once group members have offered suggestions and made recommendations, it’s time for action. All the protein shakes and warm-up stretches in the world are wasted if a player doesn’t hit the field and give it their all. Accountability is all about following through on what you told the group you would do, and keeping them informed of the progress. Accountability determines the success of the Peer Group: it demonstrates a serious desire for self-improvement as well as respect for one’s peers. 

When critical thinking, honesty, and accountability come together, it’s a good sign that a leader is willing to give and take their best to improve as executives and to support the team. The challenge to enrich, encourage, and teach and learn from one’s peers translates into better results in many different aspects of a business. When it comes to Vistage Groups and Vistage Meetings, the effort put in directly effects the results put out.

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Julie Nimmons

Julie Nimmons

Julie uses her 30 years’ experience to help CEOs, executives and business owners in her Vistage Group find success in their businesses and personal lives. With positive leadership, a firm sense of prioritization and the commitment to lifelong learning, Julie’s creates a constructive workspace for Group members where honesty, innovation and cooperation can flourish.