A number of years ago, United Way produced a video that cleverly poked fun at itself, while at the same time making a powerful point. The scene was set in an elementary school classroom where a student brought her Dad (a United Way exec) to class to talk about what he does for living. As Dad launches into his “United Way speak,” the kids quickly look confused and bored. The daughter immediately senses the problem, stands up, and proclaims, “He helps people!” Fortunately, Dad picked up on the cue and began engaging the class. The confusion and boredom quickly gave way to comprehension and smiles.
I couldn’t help recalling that story after Vistage Chair John Younker responded to my post What Core Values Drive Your Peer Advisory Group? and shared the unifying principle that guides the Vistage Group he leads in Texas. John and his group cut to the core with the same elegant simplicity that the daughter of the United Way exec articulated in her classroom. For them, it’s about “being there for one another.” Saying it is one thing, delivering on it is quite another. John and his group do so in two important ways:
1) They give their statement meaning through a code of conduct that guides the specific behaviors of the group members. The group’s code of conduct reads as follows:
CANDOR – We will be open and candid with one another; we will say what we are thinking.
CARE – We have permission to caringly confront another member, even when doing so makes that member feel uncomfortable.
OPENNESS – If we feel a member is holding back and/or not being totally open and candid with us, we will confront that member.
TRUST – We trust that we can trust in one another; we can count on each other to honor the confidentiality agreement that we all made when we joined TEC/Vistage.
CONFIDENTIALITY – We will alert/inform the whole group whenever we feel there has been a violation of rule of confidentiality; it will be a group issue to address and resolve.
SUPPORTIVE – It is encouraged to ask for support and assistance when we feel we need it at any time, even between the times of our monthly meetings.
RESPECT – We will show respect to one another and our commitment to being present and on time at our meetings.
2) To assure that their unifying principle and accompanying code of conduct are more than just words, the group holds a retreat at the end of each year, where they evaluate the group’s performance and effectiveness, based largely on their code. After the retreat, the members draft a memorandum to the Chair identifying what can be improved for the following year, and they hold one another accountable for delivering on the recommendations.
John’s Vistage Group walks the talk by “being there for one another ” in word and deed. It’s what makes for a successful group and it’s among the reasons John and his members find the peer advisory experience so valuable. I invite you to share your peer advisory group’s values and tell us not only how you came up with them, but how your group stays true to them throughout the year.