The following commentary does not necessarily reflect the views of AgWeb or Farm Journal Media. The opinions expressed below are the author's own.
Through her ACTION process, author and speaker, Sarah Beth Aubrey, leads organizations and individuals through change. She believes in the value of coaching, peer advisory groups, and networking to position farm business for the next level of growth, efficiency, and success.
The summer move blockbuster season is here and just about everyone is talking about Wonder Woman. As an agricultural industry leader you probably have your own super powers that launched you to where you are today. Still, there are always super hero secrets that you might not yet know. How can you uncover them? Let me enlighten you – join a peer advisory group.
Five Special Powers of Peer Groups
Super Power One: Confidentiality
Confidentiality is the number one place to start when joining and maintaining a peer group relationship. The reason for extreme confidentiality is simple; it’s about creating an environment where everyone knows they can share openly. For high achievers and CEO’s to combat the ‘its lonely at the top’ and the ‘I have no one that can relate to me’ quandaries that surround being in a leadership position, there is only one way to feel comfortable opening up – trust.
Super Power Two: Feedback
Each peer group’s interaction includes opportunities for members to share what is going on in their businesses and ask for advice from their fellow members. In The Power of Peers, authors Leo Bottary and Leon Shapiro, both with Vistage Worldwide, share that participation in peer groups help leaders optimize their professional development time and cash investment. “Leaders who participate in company or industry-specific peer groups to achieve goals such as improving collaboration, achieving alignment, and deepening team knowledge of company or industry issues.”
Super Power Three: Expertise
One totally unique aspect to peer advisory groups is that that consultants in the room are the members themselves and that is the goal. As a facilitator, sometimes its challenging for me to avoid diving into ‘consultant mode’ and advising, but the real aim as a facilitator is to get the members sharing from their relevant experience and offering practical insight into what works and doesn’t.
Super Power Four: Formal Structure and Facilitation
You can create your own group, but if you do, I suggest you either create it and become the facilitator or be a member and find a qualified outside facilitator to run the program. DIY types may ask why and the reason is simple - you can’t get what you need out of peer group membership if you are concerned with booking speakers, moderating the conversation, and planning the meal breaks. Let a pro do that and reap the rewards of peer advice and counsel.
I also advocate that there be a cost to admittance. There are options, but the bottom line is that when you commit financially you are much more likely to commit professionally and give the time and energy to the group – and yourself.
Super Power Five: Accountability
Successful peer groups have mastered accountability. I’ve seen groups of executives holding each other accountable for business opportunities and financial improvements, but also for needed changes in a member’s health and fitness and even personal relationships. Accountability also breeds commitment to attending and being present, something that is very difficult for leaders to do when they are on-site at work.
Things back at the shop can wait.
The Power to Give and to Receive
Peer groups are a way to both give and receive so you’ll be doing good in the world when you join one! Even if you don’t have a set of lightning rod-emitting gold wristbands, you can still tap into the power of a peer-to-peer network to elevate your game!
Executive coach, group facilitator, leadership training professional & founder of A.C.T. Aubrey Coaching & Training. Learn more: sarahbethaubrey.com