Engineering Headhunters Los Angeles


Leadership Exercises
Joe Van Tassel 03 Aug 2016

I’ve been wanting to talk about leadership groups for a long time, because it is one of the most impactful things I have ever done in my life. I’ve always wanted to shed some light on why I’m so evangelical about them, because a majority of people aren’t even aware of what they are or that they exist, AND people think I’m a total weirdo when I talk about them. But, what is undeniable is that leadership groups have changed my life.

Yep, you heard right. Joining a leadership group has changed my life – not just my business.

To get started, there are a lot of terms for “leadership groups”: executive leadership group, executive coaching, business forum, etc. They’re all similar, but I definite it as:

Eight to fifteen people in a high-trust group setting who get together on a continuous and scheduled basis to be vulnerable, learn from each other’s experiences, and grow as a person and leader.

It’s really that simple.

The key components I mention are VERY important though: trust and complete confidentiality, being willing to be vulnerable, and learning.

Other than that, it doesn’t matter if you meet monthly, quarterly, or even for a weekend once a year. It doesn’t matter if you are all on the “same level” professionally or not. It does help if you are somewhat aligned, and it helps if you meet every three to four months. There is definitely a vibe from group to group, so find one that works for you. In checklist form:

How to choose your group:

  1. High vulnerability amongst all members
  2. An environment that is conducive to trust and sharing
  3. A continuous meeting schedule
  4. A leader that can extract and distill feelings and information well

A quick note about item #4: the “leader” of the group should be a trained facilitator. I have had the pleasure of working with Vance Caesar and Patty Vogan, two leaders from two different companies whom I respect and admire beyond words. They even came to my wedding, and I treasure my time with them. Pick your facilitator wisely and know they will play a huge role in your life.

By now you’re probably thinking, okay this is cool, but what about how these groups have changed your life?

Let’s dig into that.

When you get into this high-trust high-vulnerability environment (sorry, but vulnerability on your part will be happening) you get to see how we all have the same issues. Kids, boss, employees, manager, spouse, parents, family, health. Everyone has the same issues and simply gaining that awareness and sitting in a room with people who force you to look at either their or your issues will grow you. It’s called maturing.

I went from an immature and somewhat arrogant kid with spiked hair to becoming a thoughtful adult and leader with some polish and professionalism. I went from dating the wrong people to being happily married, and I went from merely managing employees to truly leading them.

It’s once you realize you are not alone, that you can get up and out of that dark corner where there is insecurity, fear, and doubt, and you then take over. You can stand up and take action, find solutions, see around corners (avoiding mistakes others have made) and make things happen! That feeling of loneliness as a leader can be debilitating, so gaining perspective and solutions is invaluable.

This commitment to continuous learning and self-awareness is an outcome and principle that I value so much it has even manifested itself in my company’s values. I have been shown just how important it is to know your own strengths and weaknesses, so that you can complement them with others who fill in where you’re lacking. You can’t and shouldn’t do it all on your own.

We talk about personality tests here, and all of that info and insight came out of my leadership groups. ALL OF IT. I use those exact tests when we are helping companies find talent as well. The real icing on the cake though is how all of this awareness not only helps you be your best self, but it also helps strengthen all the relationships in your life. All of a sudden you will see problems and solutions much more clearly, be able to give (and take) advice better, and be able to attract and surround yourself with people you admire and respect.

All of these great outcomes combine and come to the pinnacle value that I have gained – the ultimate insight, and my final point. The one best thing that I have gained from leadership groups is: gratitude.

When you overcome obstacles and see others go through the same thing, it makes you grateful for all you’ve been through. And if everyday you’re grateful for the success you’ve had, it doesn’t matter what else happens – you’re just happy to be there.

That is a key to success.

For information on some groups I know of:

1.Vance Caesar Group
4.Gen Next
6.CEO University

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