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Does it Really Matter which CEO Peer Advisory group you join? Aren’t they all the same?

A growing number of business owners and CEOs are joining CEO peer advisory groups based on hearing from their peers that this confidential learning experience helps leaders to grow their businesses. These groups offer a level of leadership development and accountability that goes beyond one-on-one executive coaching, because of the unique value of peer learning. Because Vistage is the most widely known CEO peer group organization, I am frequently asked to distinguish the Renaissance Executive Forums experience from Vistage. While both offer a quality experience aimed at helping CEOs & business owners learn from each other in a confidential group process, there are three important differences to be considered:

PRODUCTIVITY: One of the most tangible differences in the two experiences is that Renaissance offers a half-day Forum meeting each month, while the Vistage meetings are full day. As a result, the cost of membership is usually higher for Vistage than for Renaissance. But it’s important for executives to take a hard look at the overall value of their time as well as the membership commitment. For the executive who feels the need to spend a whole day out of the office each month, Vistage would be the right choice. But many executives find it impractical to commit this much time, and Renaissance provides a cost-effective and productive alternative. How is Renaissance able to provide similarly valuable experience in half the time? First, they focus less on outside speakers, and more on facilitating meaningful interaction among members. Renaissance does invite subject matter experts to speak at meetings, but instead of delivering a half-day workshop like they would at Vistage, the speakers provide executive briefings that utilize just a third of the meeting time. This leaves most of the meeting time for direct member interaction and issue processing. CEOs who have experienced both approaches have shared that the Renaissance meetings are just as valuable, and somewhat “tighter” and more focused.

OWNERSHIP: Renaissance Forum Leaders are business owners, rather than independent contractors to Vistage International, Inc. As a result, they truly “own” the process of building a high caliber group and nurturing the learning experience. The Renaissance owners are in for the long haul so meeting member’s needs is always the top priority. The Renaissance Forum Leader knows that one of biggest drivers of value in a CEO peer advisory group is the extent to which members learn from each other and creates this value by building high caliber groups and nurturing the learning experience. The overall goal for Renaissance Forum Leaders is to nurture the learning experience by creating trust among members, drawing out their challenges and experiences, and teeing up the discussions that matter most for the group.

THOUGHT LEADERSHIP: Both organizations provide a variety of exclusive events where members can broaden their access to the wisdom and perspectives of their peers. However, the Renaissance annual two-day retreat provides true thought leadership. The Strategies for Success retreat is an intensive and proprietary leadership development experience that delivers thought leadership from leading executive coaches and authors like Marshall Goldsmith, Jim Collins, Jack Stack, David Allen and many more. One day focuses on leadership principles for growing the business, while the second day applies leadership principles to enhancing members’ personal lives. This impactful retreat is a highlight of the year for Renaissance Executive Forum members and their spouses/partners.

In summary, both Vistage and Renaissance Executive Forums provide a confidential membership organization designed to help CEOs and business owners learn from each other. However, the way these two organizations design and deliver the process can have a significantly different impact on the value of the experience.

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