Growth Insights for CEOs

The Power of the Many, For the Few, Or the One

Posted by Art Saxby

Lonely JobArt Saxby, Principle of Chief Outsiders shaking hands.

Being a business owner, business builder or CEO can be a lonely job. We often find ourselves surrounded by people.  People we care about. People we spend a considerable effort getting to know and people who we actively work to communicate with. And yet, when tough decisions need to be made, when uncertainty looms or when ideas need to be debated, we can’t always turn to our subordinates.  

Experience of The Many

Last week I attended an event put on by Vistage in Dallas. It was their annual Dallas-Fort Worth area All-City meeting that brings together all of the CEOs and executives who are in their peer groups. Talking to business owners and CEOs, some of whom have been in these groups for over 10 years, reminded me of the power of getting many minds together to discuss, debate and process issues, with us few, often for the benefit of one, a CEO.  When I asked these very busy and driven CEOs why they spent a full day a month meeting in these groups of 12-18 CEOs, they said they found it the most effective day of the month.  These tight peer groups allow a CEO to get feedback, discussion, debate, knowledge and experience of The Many.

Power of The Many

Sometimes the Power of The Many is listening to and discussing macro economic trends and how different companies are planning for or reacting to these changes.  At the event in Dallas the speaker was an economist.  And while the presentation and information was interesting, the real benefit I got out of it was talking to other CEOs about how they planned to use the information and what they were doing now that the information reinforced.

None of Us Are as Smart as All of Us

The Power of The Many however really comes into play when things get tough. There are times when the decisions are big. Or when the topic requires expertise that does not reside in your company. None of us are as smart as all of us. When the potential outcome is big enough to unnerve your subordinates, when the issues involve your subordinates, or when simply having extra minds involved will help you clarify your thinking, reach out to The Many. At my firm, each CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) is required to present his or her marketing strategy to a peer group of CMOs within our firm for active discussion and debate twice a year. Our most effective CMOs quite often request peer reviews when projects get to major milestones or decision points.

If you are leading company, you are one of the few who must set the course and make the tough decision. But that doesn’t mean you need to do it alone. Reach out to the Power of the Many.

Topics: CEO Perspectives, CEO Choices

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