I was able to succeed in my career partly due to my ability to connect, communicate, and work well with others. Communication always played a key role in any success I’ve had. And I was fortunate to work mostly in cultures that fostered constructive and informative feedback through colleagues and even more critical through useful feedback from mentors. As I rose in my career though, I noticed a funny thing happening. The higher you rise in an organization; the less people want to talk to you.
For whatever reason, the perception of my new status, the fear of getting in trouble or telling me something I might not want to hear, or maybe being seen in a group as someone talking to someone beyond their pay-grade, for whatever reason, the well of communication that had helped me to succeed over the years started to dry up. By the time I was a CEO I was standing alone in a deserted terrain.
So, I had to seek peers outside my organization. Peers that could help inform me, that I could bounce ideas and plans off of, that could share their experience with me to let me know if what I intended to do was sane and rational and could lead to success or was a known recipe for disaster. I was fortunate to find mentors and peers in my community of technologists due to the friendships I’d developed over the years. I know this is not the case for everybody though.
In my retirement, I do what I can to give back and share my experience with the business community I’ve been a part of for 50+ years. I’ve found a group of CEOs and top leaders that meets regularly, and I provide and help facilitate a forum for them to have a group of people to speak to and bounce ideas off and share experiences with. What’s been interesting to me is that these individuals don’t even have to be in the same industry. In fact, there are common problems every company struggles with and every organization requires a well-informed leader to address them with confidence. Our group focuses on the 5 areas of:
- Making well informed decisions
- And Change Management
The organizational challenges and mechanics are similar, but the diversity of backgrounds and experiences facilitates rich discussions that result in action plans for each other. Once implemented, these plans return real, measurable results. We meet regularly to gauge each other’s progress and help tune any plans a person has implemented to adapt to the changing realities of the business. It’s a lot of fun.
For example, we had one person see a large part of his business diminish significantly year on year. With substantial effort involving the group and others, he made plans, gathered resources and launched a new business in a new market which had only recently emerged. Within a year, he doubled his overall business through the growth in the new market.
It’s great to see these opportunities and still be a part of it.