Building Bridges: The Case for Executive Peer Networks
Skybridge Associates, LLC (June 2018)
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” African proverb
Many (if not most) C-level executives feel isolated when having to make high-impact decisions. According to James Millar, “The good news is that well-designed, well-executive peer dialogue is possible through executive peer dialogue is possible through private, invitation only networks.” Oh really?
For more than a decade, I chaired two groups affiliated with what was then The Executive Committee (TEC). Members were owner/CEOs of small companies. (I had previously launched and later sold two small but rapid-growth companies.) We met for a full weekday, once a month. I cherish memories of those associations and based on what I closely observed, I assert that such executive peer networks offer accelerated personal growth and professional development of incalculable value. Yes, they really can offer all of that in ways and to an extent that no other professional association can.
Street-smart executives who aspire to reside in the so-called C-suite develop all manner of formal and informal associations. With due respect to the potentially substantial value of peer groups, much can also be gained from relationships with individual clients, allies, and even competitors. One of Millar’s key points is that, with rare exception, the most successful people are relentless and skillful bridge builders. They master the skills needed to communicate, cooperate, and (most important of all) collaborate with those with whom relationships are established. Mutual trust and respect are among the cornerstones of each bridge’s foundation. They require thorough maintenance.
James Millar provides an abundance of information, insights, and counsel that will help prepare almost anyone to build the strongest bridges where they will be of greatest value to those involved. As previously suggested, the connection could be with members of a peer group, of course, but also with others within and beyond the given organization.
One final point: The African proverb quoted earlier is more relevant now than ever before as the business world becomes more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time that I can recall.