A few weeks ago at the request of then president-elect Barack Obama, the most exclusive group in America met—the Presidents Club. According to The New York Times, there was no precedent for such a meeting. Historians themselves could not recall a time when a president, or a president-elect, brought his predecessors together to pick “their collective brains.”!@!
It’s sad that this meeting of presidential minds is such a rarity. The position is easily the most formidable job in the country, and to make it even more formidable by taking a go-it-alone approach seems a bit bull-headed. When you have such a reservoir of knowledge and experience, why not dip into it? Is it egos, hesitance or just plain stupidity?
Unfortunately many CEOs (and other C-suite executives) do the same—they ignore the reservoir. How often do your past and present CEOs meet? I’m guessing the answer is not very often.
It may not be because of egos, hesitance or stupidity; instead it may be because of how that consultation will be viewed by employees, customers and shareholders. Is there a perception in these prestigious positions that turning to a peer is a sign of weakness?
It’s well evidenced by the meeting of the Presidents Club that this perception is false. No one looked at President Obama’s act as a beacon of weakness. In fact, many saw it as a mark of greatness.
“I think he gains a lot of legitimacy with the political class,” said Republican strategist John Feehery in The New York Times. “There is this sense that all these guys who have been there before, by meeting with him, and eagerly meeting with him, they’ve [shown] they think he can do the job. The torch is passed.”
The same may be true of your CEO or C-suite executives if they only took the time to confer with their predecessors.