Building the perfect leader

by Iain Hopkins31 Oct 2011
Peer-to-peer learning

Taking a different approach is the CEO Institute, a peer-to-peer membership organisation for CEOs and senior executives. With more than 900 members nationwide, its members meet regularly in small groups to share ideas, experiences and challenges and to be exposed to leading edge business thinking.

Of most interest to HR professionals – for their own development and that of others – is the Transitional Leadership Program, which takes up-and-coming managers and nurtures their leadership skills to that next level.

Syndicate chairman, and former head of The CEO Institute, Andrew Dalziel, says the program draws on real-life experiences and adopts a guided learning approach.

Meeting on a monthly basis, the aim is to extend members’ thinking and broaden their perspective. They have time to talk about business problems and generate discussions. All group members are from non-competing organisations so they can be free and frank.

For two of the monthly meetings this year, the Institute has engaged Mt Eliza Executive Education’s Professor Graeme Cocks to deliver case studies – Winning Organisations in Australia and Executing Your Strategic Plan.

“The aim is to encourage the rising stars in organisations and provide them with the knowledge, resources and networking opportunities to help take their career to that top level,” Dalziel says.

For four meetings each year, existing CEOs are brought in to talk about some aspect of management – from international growth and improving financial management to change management and honing media presentation skills.

Each member does an annual presentation on their own experience or current role, to expand the thinking of the group; and there is an annual site visit to a member premises to understand the workings of that business.

For most people the TLP is a 2-3 year experience. “People stay as long as they are getting a benefit,” says Dalziel. “Some stay longer and remain in the same role in their organisations. You might say are these people progressing? They certainly are, but they happen to be in organisations where the CEO is still there.”

Dalziel says the program is not just for CEO-aspirants, but for all business people who want to be better managers and senior leaders within their own organisations. “Part of the experience is learning from others, not only their different business experiences, but also different technical backgrounds and how that might fit into a whole,” he suggests.

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