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Professional Support Systems for the C-Level Executive

|Oct 1|magazine14 min read
Few people are able to relate to the demands and rigors of a high-profile C-level executive position. Despite the support of friends and family, many C-level executives must turn to others in similar positions of power for new perspectives and fresh ideas.

Where does the C-level look? What are the organizations and associations fulfilling these needs? Ultimately, what benefits can one expect? The answer to these questions and more will allow for C-level Executives to connect with their peers and apply their newfound knowledge for added profits and exponential growth.

Women’s President Organization

WPO is a nonprofit organization for women presidents of multimillion dollar companies. With over 82 active chapters and over 1500 members, each serves as a peer advisory group based on the 4 C’s of WPO: Collaboration, Confidentiality, Commitment and Connections. As a result, 68 % of WPO members do business with each other; 32 % of its members pay themselves a salary of more than $300,000 a year; WPO members collectively generate $14.8 billion in annual revenue and represent about 21,000 years of collective business experience.

“Our meetings are about bringing the genius out of the group,” says Dr. Marsha Firestone, Founder and President of the Women Presidents' Organization.

“There is already collaboration; a sharing of ideas in a confidential environment with non-competitive businesses that build connections. Business opportunities develop because the women get to know it each other; not only in their own chapter, but we have chapters on four continents. They get to know their peers at our annual conference and build relationships that enable cross-border businesses. The main reason they join is to accelerate the growth of their company and enhance their competiveness.”

Young Presidents’ Organization

A global network of young chief executives, the YPO connects 17,000 peers in more than 100 countries to enhance their business, community and personal leadership. Founded in 1950 by manufacturer Ray Hickok, YPO centers on education and idea exchange. The companies run by YPO members employ more than 15 million people and generate US$5.4 trillion in annual revenues. Business leaders must be under the age of 45 and must be the chief operator (CEO, managing director, president, chairman or equivalent) of a company.

“I joined YPO in 1991 as a way for me to get connected to Winnipeg business leaders or peers, who were going through the same business growth issues as I was having,” says Derek Johannson, Chairman of Carlyle Printers, Service & Supplies Ltd.

“Very quickly you open up to your peers because of the confidential-like nature. I started at the regional level and then got connected to YPOers across Canada. I was meeting people in other marketplaces. Through the YPO network I was able to establish relationships with guys locally, so when I needed advice on accountants, lawyers and real estate, I had a trusted advisor, which accelerated my ability to plan an office, get the right people and see growth. YPO is also global. I was the chair of Canada and then got on the international board. Now I know people all over the world. I called a YPOer in Shanghai and told him I was coming and could he put me in touch with t he right people.

Vistage International

Vistage International has global affiliates in 16 countries and more than 14,000 leaders. Members meet in small peer advisory groups every month under the guiding principles to become better leaders, make better decisions and achieve better results. In 1957, a Wisconsin businessman named Robert Nourse met with four fellow chief executives and formed what would become the Vistage. Collectively, Vistage-member companies generate nearly $300 billion in annual revenue; employ approximately 1.8 million employees worldwide; and, on average, grow their revenues at three times the percentage growth rate after joining the Vistage Executive Leadership Programs. The national affiliate is TEC Canada.

“TEC allows for CEOs to step away from a day-to-day approach and allows them to be in a confidential setting with 16 other CEOs,” says Lynn Tanner, Founder and President of TEC Canada.

“More specifically, they can raise issues that they couldn’t with their boards or with lawyers to other CEOs who have been in similar situations or with experts we bring in from across North America. The experts are people who have been very active in creating wealth and growing companies. The key is how CEOs or presidents obtain new and significant intellectual capital. As peers, there’s not a deferential mentality like there is with Vice Presidents, accountants, lawyers and consultants. There is no conflict of interest. It’s an environment that is straight-up, in-depth and of good quality with people who genuinely care.”