Why I Attend the CEO Board of Boards Roundtable

Why I feature this article is the similarity it has with the Power of Seven concept and the benefits we can gain from spending quality well facilitated time with peers.

Interesting article on LinkedIn Pulse by Douglas Conant Chairman, Avon Products; Founder, ConantLeadership; Chairman, KELI; Former President, CEO & Director Campbell Soup. Mr Conant talks about his attendance at the CECP’s Board of Boards CEO Roundtable which offers a unique opportunity for learning and growth for CEOs. Forbes has recognized the event as one of the Top 15 Conferences for Meeting Influencers and Innovators, alongside World Economic Forum and Clinton Global Initiative. He says in the article

As corporate leaders, we have a responsibility to represent all of our stakeholders in the most enlightened way possible. This means meaningfully promoting the interests of our employees, customers, consumers, and communities, as well as the needs of our shareholders. It is not an easy job. But it is an important one. We have an obligation to lead our organizations in the most holistic way we can. One of the most effective ways to develop an enlightened perspective is to learn from others.

You can read the full article here. But here is a condensed version of the five reasons that Mr Conant found the Board of Boards CEO Roundtable experience so valuable:

  1. There are No “New” Issues. Believe it or not, the issues we face every day are not new to the world. They’ve been faced countless times by other people, and attending this event provides a tremendous opportunity to learn from their experiences. It is an opportunity to sit face-to-face with up to 50 world-class Chairmen and CEOs who are wrestling with the same exact issues as I am—such as employee engagement, trust, customers, brand, and risk. And, while there may not be new issues, there are new ideas. Every year I search for just one new idea – even one idea from a fellow CEO is enormously beneficial.
  2. Building a Community. Another benefit of this event is its small size. Attendance is capped at 50 people, which leads to a very intimate, “off-the-record” tone with the proceedings. This fosters a tangible familiarity and sense of kinship with peer Fortune 500 CEOs throughout the course of the discussions. You are building a solid network of leadership peers who you can use as a resource in the future. Maybe you don’t have a problem you’re grappling with today. But you might tomorrow. And, through these discussions you begin to create a community of people who you can call up and ask “how would you handle this?” when tomorrow comes. He talks about inspired leadership thinking from Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo. Her commitment to “Performance with Purpose” represents a bold proposition at the heart of her mission.
  3. Diverse But Like-Minded Leaders. Something that really sets this roundtable apart is that the participants come from wildly different sectors of the economy and backgrounds – from banking, to chemical, to food, to insurance. However, they are united in their efforts to develop a higher purpose for their company.
  4. CEOs are Citizens Too. Being a CEO can be a lonely job. Few people understand the responsibilities, challenges, and supreme accountability that go along with the position. But, we’re concerned citizens, too. We want to learn, grow, and help build a better world like anyone else. …. it helps enormously to learn from fellow CEOs who have “walked a mile in our shoes.” So, we can really delve deep and take this opportunity to ask our peers questions like, “How did you manage x crisis?”, “How did you organize and execute this initiative?”.
  5. Societal Engagement is Just Good Business. Increasingly, evidence is overwhelming that corporations must seek greater harmony between their business agenda and the societal agenda. Every year at CECP, we celebrate countless corporations that are a force for good. One example that springs to mind is the work Duncan Niederauer, CEO, New York Stock Exchange (our host for this year’s event), is leading on reintegrating veterans into the workforce.
You can also keep up-to-date with this year’s event on February 24th by following the hashtag #BoB2014 on twitter.

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