You need to have a consistent way to get outside perspectives in order to build success. That was a common thread across the presentations of our speakers at last week’s Women’s Leadership Summit. Regardless of whether you use a personal kitchen cabinet, a peer advisory group, or a mastermind group, the point is to be part of a group of trusted individuals who have diverse experience and who are willing to be brutally honest with you and hold you accountable.
Dr. Trish Holliday, Tennessee’s Chief Learning Officer and Assistant Commission of Human Resources, talked about her use of a personal kitchen cabinet. This is a group of trusted individuals she brings together periodically to give her straight talk. Trish asks them about improving her personal brand and expects them to give her straight talk so that she continues to be the authentic leader she wants to be. She talks with them about her goals and challenges, and they offer solutions, course corrections, or new approaches.
Peer Advisory Group
Kurt Greene, chair of a local Vistage group of CEOs, talked about the value of peer advisory groups. These are formal groups of like-minded individuals, often working at the same level in a company or organization, who come together monthly (in the case of Vistage) to address challenges and improve their organizations. Kurt stressed the importance of confidentiality, strong accountability, and honest feedback. Those are key to the success of advisory groups like these. But when any of these essential pieces are missing, the value of the group is lost.
My partner Deb and I have been a part of a mastermind group of six business women since 2011. We have become deeply bonded and are invested in each other’s success, both professionally and personally. We meet twice a month and take a retreat together each year. At every meeting, we do a quick check-in about what has happened since we were last together, including celebrating successes. Then we divide the remaining time up and work through individual challenges. I can’t tell you how many times we have helped each other solve problems or offered new ideas or approaches because we bring different experiences and perspectives to bear. Having five other people put their brains to work for you is very powerful, especially because they have no vested interest except to see you succeed.
A Forbes article recently talked about the superpowers of groups like these: formal structure, confidentiality, feedback, expertise (other than your own), and accountability. I agree. Each of these is an essential ingredient in the success of groups like this. The group has to have structure to maintain its purpose. The people in them have to be both open and honest, and be willing to keep all of the confidences shared in the group. And while group members should be like-minded about seeking success, you need them to bring different professional strengths and expertise to the table.
Want to talk more about putting together your own group of outside counsel? Shoot us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). We’d love to help you get started because we personally know the value.