Get Your Answers Questioned, Not Your Questions Answered


peer advisory group

You may come to a peer advisory group expecting to get your questions answered. You’re more likely to get your answers questioned.

Sometimes you’ll arrive at a meeting with a problem you want to discuss, like how to deal with a difficult board. Maybe you have trouble delegating to others or can’t get straight answers about your company finances. Whatever the problem, the peer advisory group will brainstorm and come up with ideas on how to fix it. You will probably offer your own solutions.

Concrete Steps

The facilitator will ask you what ideas resonate with you the most, and what you’re going to do next. “Tell me what the three action steps are you’re going to take between now and the next meeting,” the facilitator will say. Sometimes you’re uncertain about what steps to take. That usually means you’re ducking the issue and don’t want to face the fact you need to do something.

That’s when a good facilitator will ask: “If you did know, what would it look like?”

Don’t Expect a Standing Ovation

Sometimes you’ll come up with an elegant solution and expect a standing ovation from the group. That’s often when someone asks how big a blindfold you had on when you crafted that elegant solution because you totally missed the point.

That’s what we mean by getting your answers questioned, not your questions answered. 

It’s an exercise you should welcome, because you are among your peers. You don’t have to be afraid of falling flat on your face in front of your people back at the office. 

Thoughtful Action

According to a study of 4,000 executives, including 134 CEOs, by executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates, CEOs stand out from other executives in several ways, including their ability to read people, their willingness to take calculated risks, and their bias toward thoughtful action. They seek to understand different perspectives but don’t overanalyze.

So, there is a time to analyze, and a time to act.

After the peer group exercise, you should walk away with a few specific actions you agree to perform, usually no more than five. When the group meets the next month, the facilitator will ask: “How did you get on with that?” If you admit you didn’t follow through, no one will scold you.

They’ll just ask: “You said this was important. Is it still important or not?”

That’s true accountability.

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