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


Vistage Executive Peer Groups: A Checklist For Vistage Success


Vistage Executive Peer Groups are true meetings of the minds. However, it takes more than being a successful executive to earn an invitation to the table. When I’m considering candidates, there are certain qualities I seek out, and actions I look for to see if they are suited to our Executive Peer Group. This checklist aims to determine whether or not an executive will fit well within the open, honest, and respectful culture we foster.

Willingness to be open.

When I begin the interview process I ask, “Tell me about your best decision lately”. Later, I turn the tables and ask about a recent, not-so-successful decision. If a leader shuts down or isn’t able to talk about their mistakes – or worse, fails to recognize they have made any, then I know they stand little to gain for our Peer Group’s constructive criticism. We gather at the Vistage table to improve ourselves; that means each of us has to be willing to accept and openly discuss our strengths and weaknesses.

Willingness to answer tough questions.

It can be difficult to feel like you are being put on the spot. Many of us naturally react too quickly instead of thinking about the question and responding with care. When evaluating a candidate, I look for measured responses that show that this person is capable of taking a step back and considering why I’ve asked this particular question. If someone is too inwardly focussed, or gets defensive, they cannot help the group. I look for members that can ask and answer tough questions with a level head.

Demonstrate empathy for others.

Caring about the wellbeing of others, as people and as executives, is a paramount quality every potential member must display. During a preliminary interview, the prospect also has a chance to ask questions. I review the way the candidate both answers and asks questions to see if they have the soft skills to work well with the group. Small gestures like well-meaning, politely phrased questions and open and friendly body language are signs that a person is genuinely interested in others and cares about their experience with the group as well.

Demonstrate thoughtfulness.

Thoughtfulness is a prerequisite because we strive to be problem solvers. Taking the time to mull a question over, asking questions in reply to gain a fuller understanding, and presenting several solutions, are all marks of an individual who is attentive and willing to do the mental work to resolve a problem. This process mimics what we aim to achieve at the Vistage roundtable when we sit down to find solutions together.

Demonstrate respect for others.

The final aspect a candidate must possess is respectfulness. Vistage Executive Peer Groups are ripe with interaction, and in order to ensure these interactions are productive for all members, I expect a high level of decorum. There is no place for members who would ignore, interrupt, or belittle others. Being comfortable and honest in the Peer Group environment is essential to a productive dialogue, and I cannot admit candidates who will jeopardize our values.

When I am interviewing new candidates for my Vistage Peer Advisory Group, the current members of the group are relying on me to bring a new member who will help, not hinder our process. Hence, I look for prospects that demonstrate interest and self-reflection and who are able to uphold a productive problem solving mindset without sacrificing emotional intelligence. Although all come from diverse backgrounds, what holds us together at the Vistage table is our collective ability to improve ourselves and those around us. By cultivating and maintaining an atmosphere of open and constructive dialogue, we ensure that the Vistage Group can continue to operate towards its ultimate goal – improving its member executives.


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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.