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Keeping Your Perspective
September 17, 2010
Written By: Pete Petersen

Our Executive Roundtable groups started meetings again last week after our summer break. Prior to resuming we met one on one with most of the Roundtable members to gather their feedback on the value of the Roundtables to them as business leaders. One consistent feedback theme that surfaced was that being part of the executive peer groups helped them maintain perspective on their business and their leadership skills. 

It is very easy to lose your perspective as a business leader. It leads to decision paralysis, poor choices and misguided strategy. Trust me; I’ve been there and done that plenty of times in my career. 

Here’s how it happens:

  1. You become totally absorbed doing the business of your business; managing, organizing, analyzing and problem solving. 

  2. You talk to the same people on your team about the same issues over and over again.

  3. You shun customer visits and outside business activities so you can concentrate on the business.

  4. Discussions outside the business are limited to industry peers who are facing many of your same issues.

  5. You begin to think your business is “unique and complex”. No one from the outside could really understand your issues particularly someone who is outside your industry,

  6. You become convinced that the only way to run the business is your way.

The reality is that:

  1. There are many ways to solve operating and strategy issues. At the Roundtables last week I heard 30+ well thought out individual slants on critical issues that executives were facing. 

  2. Some of the most insightful and fresh approaches come from leaders who don’t know an industry or a particular business well.

  3. You can talk to your own people too much. After a while you all see the issues and solutions through the same lens; everything becomes groupthink. One of our clients puts it this way, “we are smoking our own stuff”.

  4. There are lots of smart business leaders out there who are great money makers, brilliant strategists and terrific opportunists. Unfortunately you can’t meet them holing up in your office.

  5. Your business is not as unique and complex as you may think. On of my bosses once told me, “don’t tell me you have a complex business. Microsoft is a complex business and you are not running Microsoft.” Sometimes just listening to other business leaders discuss their issues and successes helps you see your business in a simpler light.

  6. There are many leaders that have dealt with the same set of issues you are grappling with today. You are not alone and your problems are not insurmountable.

Our Roundtables are a terrific opportunity for senior level leaders to step away from their business a half day per month, interact with savvy, smart leaders and maintain their perspective. 

One of the Roundtable executives sent the following to us after a recent very robust discussion at their business. “I was a little surprised at the group’s complete and utter dislike of the growth concept.  I think they were right on the money, but it is interesting how an idea can be so popular inside our company and when you hear it from the group’s perspective it sounds terrible.  It is good for me to have both perspectives.”



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