Originally Published on The Canadian Business Journal

Kevin Huhn, Media Expert and TEC Canada speaker sits down with TEC Canada President Todd Millar to better understand the power of peer advisory.

I remember my first coaching job as the head coach of a hockey team in Dollard des Ormeaux, Quebec. It was 1986. The team was made up of players between the ages of fifteen and sixteen years old. I was the only coach. I ran practices. I prepared the players for games. I managed the bench by myself.

Today one coach doing it all is unheard of. A head coach has multiple coaches alongside. There are assistant coaches, goalie coaches, video coaches and off ice coaches. As a result the head coach is more focused.

It is no different for C Suite, presidents and business owners of companies. They know that their team of people are relying on them to lead and achieve desired outcomes. But who can be of assistance to a CEO, president or owner of a company when they are faced with challenges or opportunities?

TEC Canada

Imagine for a moment you are at the helm of a company. You are struggling with a particular area of the business. You have an issue that is keeping you from making progress in a particular situation. Along comes someone who can show you your blind spot. They help you gain awareness and a new perspective to adjust and move past that challenge. How beneficial would it be to have help versus trying to figure it out on your own?

For the past 30 years TEC Canada provides a platform for senior executives, business owners and CEOs to come together, share knowledge and experiences to help each other generate better results for themselves and their businesses. To help me better understand this power of peer advisory I connected with TEC Canada president, Todd Millar.

We spoke about how important it is today for a leader in a company to be surrounded by peers and have someone in their corner outside of the board of directors and management team.

“When people are challenged what do they default to?” He asked me. “They go back to what is comfortable.”
This reaction is the same for CEOs, presidents of companies and business owners. When faced with a challenge there is the tendency to avoid. However when given support, action will be taken despite the uncomfortable feelings. Over time the fears and not so positive feelings dissipate. So when that type of situation arises again confidence is now in place to handle it. That is the growing process.

When you wrestle with a topic you often times will find it is because you don’t have the answers and are unsure of what to do. Once you have new information or a new perspective you will not react the same as you did prior to the new awareness. You have expanded your wisdom and comfort zone.

“The pace of change is happening so fast, having a peer to rely on for shared knowledge and input is important,” Millar said. “Leaders can’t afford to make too many mistakes. One member told me that even after 5 years as a TEC Canada member, he still loves the process because it challenges him at least 50% of the time and that’s how he continues to grow.”

Mentorship and Coaching

“If you are a leader in a business today and you want to grow, then you need a safe place to engage, be challenged, feel cared for with a high level of trust,” Todd described as the way a company’s culture should be relating to what is needed for its CEO or president.

“Behaviour starts at the top and seeking help should be seen as ok,” he continued. “The culture should be that board of directors make their CEOs be part of a peer advisory which will result in them becoming a person of influence both professionally and personally.”

The business landscape is in great flux. Longevity is quickly diminishing impacting the lifespan of its leaders. In a report by Innosight in 2012, corporations listed on the S&P 500 Index in 1965, were on the Index an average of 33 years. In 1990, the average tenure dipped to 20 years and then 18 years in 2012. At this rate, the results demonstrated that half of the S&P 500 companies will be replaced over the next 10 years.

“Being a part of a peer advisory group like TEC Canada provides not only mentorship, but also powerful relationships,” Todd said. “This develops integral support and connection for today’s CEOs and business leaders.”

Asking for Help

The old school of business leadership had the mindset, let me figure it out. If you asked for help it was perceived as a sign of weakness. But the landscape is changing. And with it comes new attitudes and perspectives on what it means to ask for help.

“The demographic of business leaders is changing,” Millar pointed out. “There are younger people leading companies and women stepping into leadership roles. They bring with them a greater self-awareness and the mindset that it’s okay to ask for help.”

Todd broke down the common elements of a business leader into three categories:

1) Business decision making: “Their job is based on them being able to make important and complex decisions. They are at the top of the chain of command.”
Thought to consider: Where do leaders go to get a different perspective?

2) Processing: “The value they provide and their level of commitment can make them vulnerable and be an intricate strain in their lives.”
Thought to consider: Who can leaders turn to for support?

3) Everyday activity: “Gut checks and intuitive judgement. They go inside and evaluate their own personality, beliefs and values.”

Thought to consider: Where can leaders be themselves?

“Peer advisory is something everyone needs,” he says. “But not everyone can do it. It requires active participation.”

If you are looking for a place that allows you to share your knowledge and experiences to generate better results for yourself and your business, then be a part of a group of business men and women where probing, asking questions and making suggestions, challenges you to then work together to solve issues and grow.

Todd Millar’s final words of advice for Canadian business leaders and future business leaders: “Imagine a place that understands the unique needs of today’s business leaders and supports you to grow your company faster than the average business in your industry. That is what TEC Canada provides its members – a clear competitive advantage with a proven ROI. Explore and get involved.”