Leaders are often reluctant to seek advice and feedback from peers in their own organizations. Even when matters are not overly sensitive, there may be an undercurrent of competition between two executives who are otherwise collaborating effectively. This competitiveness usually remains unspoken, but both parties are aware of it.
So when leaders seek advice, they aren’t always sure they’ll receive truly objective input from internal peers.
It’s reasonable to have these concerns, and, whether or not these concerns are true in any given instance, leaders may be hesitant to take the risk.
What I’ve noticed over several decades of working with senior leaders is that, when they are reluctant to consult internal peers, they seldom think of looking for help from external peers, where they are more likely to get neutral input and fresh perspectives.
When I suggest this option, however, most think it’s a great idea; and it’s led me to match a substantial number of executives with external peers whom I already know, often from different industries.
The feedback I’ve received later indicates that, in the majority of cases, the leader who was seeking advice found it helpful.
Even if the interaction didn’t produce an effective solution, being able to talk through issues with external peers clarified options and built confidence in a new course of action.