My previous post discussed the C-suite Relationship Map, which I have based on the CFO Relationship Map I use in my executive coaching with Chief Financial Officers.  I have been working with this relationship map for the past few years.

I have been thinking it is pretty complete, mapping out all the relationships a CFO (or any executive) has, so they can further develop and get the best out of their corporate relationships to be even more successful in their work environment. This graphical representation identifies the four different types of corporate relationships any C-suite executive could have, with the premise that each of these areas needs effective relationships for the executive to be successful in their role.

I have also been saying for the last few years that CFOs are lonely - they have few people to rely on to discuss issues that they face confidentially. Loneliness is not something only felt by Chief Financial Officers. Based on my observations and conversations with other C-level executives, many in the Executive suite ‎feel lonely.

My response to this loneliness felt by CFOs was they could find a mentor or executive coach to keep them sane, self-aware and on track for further success.

‎So what relationship is missing from the C-suite Relationship Map?

CFO Peer Group MapLast month, one of my CFOs reached out to me with an idea. "Samuel," he said, "I feel that I'm missing an opportunity to learn from other CFOs who have faced similar situations to the ones I am facing today. What would really help me is being part of a peer group."

From this conversation I gained clarity on one more method for combating LES (Lonely Executive Syndrome). I have since reached out since to a number of my CFOs and most felt that they could benefit from such a peer group.  Effective relationships with peers outside of the organization are important to the success of any C-suite executive.

Working with a mentor or executive coach may not be enough in the fight against LES. The creation of Executive Peer Groups can be very beneficial for executive success. Learning through sharing experiences and building strong connected networks of executives facing similar challenges and stories can go a long way to making the C-suite more confident and successful.

C-suite executives have told me that they are not able to share and discuss a number of the key issues they face, whether these issues are interpersonal and political (managing up, down and sideways) or ideas on how to better accomplish goals and objectives. Executives have also told me that they feel that the only points of reference they can use for ideas to solve new problems are the experiences they have faced in the past, or what has been learned in their current organization. Without speaking to others outside of their organization, their frame of reference to solve issues and challenges cannot be expanded. Essentially, it is important for executives to be able to learn from others, as well as share what they have learned.

Are you an executive that is part of a peer group? Did you join one or create your own? Is it formal or informal? What does your peer group look like? I'd love to know more about what has worked for you. Tell me your story.


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