Twenty-Five Reasons to Join a Peer Advisory Group or Forum

In March 2016, The Power of Peers: How the Company You Keep Drives Leadership Growth & Success hit the bookshelves in response to the low profile and need for more awareness of how and why peer advisory groups for business leaders are so effective. When you considered the number of CEOs and business leaders who were members of groups back then, versus those who could have been, the numbers were minuscule. I thought: How could something that is proven to be so effective be utilized by so few?

Today, organizations that have been leading these groups across the globe for decades are growing, and there are more competitors in this category than ever before. Why? Because peer advisory groups/forums work. They address a broad range of needs, challenges, and opportunities for today’s leaders in an increasingly complex world. Having led more than 600 programs for peer advisory groups and forums since late 2016, I’d like to point out 25 reasons for joining one. (If you have others, please leave them in the comments). 

  1. An Antidote to Isolation and Insulation: Joining a CEO peer advisory group connects you with people who know exactly what it’s like to sit in your chair. They will help you battle what some describe as being lonely (and alone) at the top. It offers an opportunity for deep interaction, networking, and collaboration. You’ll also discover how to be a genuine part of the team you lead at your company, rather than be seen as apart from it.
  2. A Retreat for Reflection: Your multi-day, full-day, or half-day group meetings allow time for introspection and strategizing that you rarely get during a hectic month.
  3. Learning Better Together: You learn more effectively when you can be among people who share common challenges and where members can share experiences, knowledge, and skills.
  4. A Peek into What’s Next: Peer advisory groups always look around the corner at what’s next, exploring insights into upcoming trends and strategies that can benefit your company.
  5. Your Life – Not Just Your Job: A balanced life is essential for high performance. Share your aspirations for yourself, your family, and your community, and develop strategies for realizing both success and joy.
  6. Your Health – Physical and Mental: By lending a listening ear and promoting self-care practices, you can help one another be at your very best.  
  7. Learning Not to be the Chief Everything Officer: While there’s a great deal of content about leadership, there needs to be more information dedicated to the role of the CEO. 
  8. Doing What Anyone Can Do (that most of us don’t): Your fellow members can help you do what anyone can do (the essentials for success) that, left to your own devices, you may not. 
  9. Being Asked Questions You’ve Stopped Asking Yourself: Peer-to-peer questioning enables better self-awareness, leadership growth, and the exploration of new ways of working.
  10. People to Pull You Out of The Hole: On those days when you are stuck in a hole, and you can’t climb out, your fellow member(s), who have been there before, will be willing to jump in the hole with you and show you the way. 
  11. Collateral Learning: Education legend John Dewey describes collateral learning as what you learn from how you learn. As you engage your fellow members, you build muscles around being present, listening more effectively, asking precise questions, not making assumptions, rushing to judgment, or jumping to conclusions.
  12. A Focus on What Makes Great Results Possible: The greatest teams in sports don’t see winning championships as their goal; they see winning as the reward for doing what’s required to be great. Your fellow members will remind you to regard excellence as a verb rather than a noun. 
  13. Learn How to Lead Horizontally: Leaders tend to look at their vertical organizational structure (SVPs, VPs, Directors, Managers, etc.), yet it’s what runs horizontally in your company that gives its vertical structure its strength. Understanding peer-to-peer dynamics and key influencers who don’t have the loftiest job titles matters – especially in a world of change.
  14. Understanding a World Outside Your Industry Sector: You’ll discover ways of working that are unheard of in your industry yet commonplace elsewhere that could work for your organization.
  15. Understanding an Ever-Evolving Workforce: By 2025, millennials and Gen Zs will comprise 64% of the workforce, and by 2030, it will be 75%. (See reason 13 to understand further how much this matters. 
  16. Leading in an Ever-Changing World: Whether it’s changes in education, the global economy, political world order, AI, or countless other topics, no one should tackle these challenges alone. 
  17. Asking the “What if?” Questions: What if you lost your second in command tomorrow? What if a multinational corporation bought your most significant competitor? What if you expanded your product offering to Western Europe? Making a list of questions most relevant to you and working through them with your members is a highly effective activity.
  18. Getting Your Answers Questioned: Having a group of CEOs with whom you can pressure test a decision you have yet to implement could be a game changer. Here’s where you can ask, “What am I missing?”
  19. A Practice Field: In business, it’s game day every day. Your group meeting is the place to test ideas and hone your skills. For example, next time you have to make a presentation to your board, ask your members to serve as your mock audience. You’ll be amazed at the coaching you receive. 
  20. Scaling Your Company: Receive expert insights on how to scale your company to meet short and long-term goals.
  21. Succession Planning: Learn from fellow CEOs about effective succession planning and leadership continuity.
  22. Selling Your Company: If you’re thinking about selling someday, now is the time to think about it. Your fellow CEOs will work with you to prepare for such an event. 
  23. Exit Strategy: Understand what it takes to develop a concrete exit strategy from leaders who have been there.
  24. Building Trusted Relationships: Forming connections with other CEOs leads to enduring, trusted relationships that can be essential for your leadership journey.
  25. A Place to Celebrate: CEO peer advisory groups provide a space to celebrate your victories and share joys with like-minded individuals.


Asking for help is an act of resourcefulness. I urge you to find the group or forum that you believe best meets your needs. You’ll know you joined the right group when as poetic voice Sekou Andrews says, “You feel small among them, and they look at you like a giant.” 

As your peer advisory group hits its stride, you’ll experience Peernovation – a combination of peers (people of like status) and innovation (creativity realized). It occurs when a carefully selected, diverse collection of people, with a common purpose and shared values, work together to make each other better and create something larger than themselves. Sounds like a worthwhile endeavor as we approach a new year.

Written by Leo Bottary.

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