Strengthen the Group, Vistage Fundamental #10

Strengthen the Group, Vistage Fundamental #10

Seek and recommend candidates, with the goal of having at least 16 members, that will improve the quality of the interactions in the group. Ask yourself: “Who is missing?” Then work with the members and the chair to fill that void. Regularly provide feedback on how the group is performing and suggest ways to improve. Assist with the integration of new members by volunteering to be their “buddy” for the first 3 months.

Steve Van Valin portrait
by Steve Van Valin


Vistage Brandywine Valley
Trusted Advisors 1298


This is Steve Van Valin from Culturology wanting to cover this month’s fundamental for Vistage, the Brandywine Valley Groups. What we’re going to look at is this particular one, Number 10, which is “Strengthen the Group”. The first part of this fundamental talks about “who’s missing?”. Who might we need to add that could add a new perspective to the group? But I wanted to focus on the second part, which is about regularly providing feedback on how the group is performing and suggest ways to improve. So anytime we’re talking about performance improvement, we really have the option of whether we focus on the positive or the negative. Where do you think most people tend to focus? Usually on the negative, but research says that if we’re going to really invoke change within a group, in the behavior within the group, that if we focus on what we appreciate or what was positive, that it serves as reinforcement, and you have better chance of changing for the future.

There’s a term applied to this, it’s called appreciative inquiry, which looks at the glass half-full. “What went well?” So some of the questions are, when you think about what’s working within the group to call that out:

  • How was this meeting effective?
  • What were some of the real things that made it effective for you and the other members around the table?
  • What had a high impact? What were the high points?
  • What should we repeat again in the future? Since we have these meetings every month, what do we want to see more of in the future?

So appreciative inquiry isn’t a Pollyanna approach or just a politically correct approach. If you do have a problem that needs to be called out, we definitely do that at Vistage in a bold and obvious way. We have no problem with that but calling out what’s positive gives a better chance to reinforce it and repeat it in the future.

I had a boss that had this as part of her job description. She called it, “Catching people doing things right.” I think it applies to the appreciative inquiry approach. It’s really about giving yourself permission to have eyes and ears for noticing and then calling out the things that you want to have repeated in the future. If you’re on the receiving end of this, being totally busted is actually an honor. So when you hear people around the table at Vistage speaking truth to power and it’s making a difference, call that out so that they feel, you know, extra-bold even the next time. Show them how valuable it is and what it means to the group or that person who had total energy and focus this particular meeting. Let them know that, and they can bring it again.

This fundamental about strengthening the group, something we can do at Vistage and something we can do on our organizations as well if we focus on catching people doing things right. This is Steve Van Valin with Culturology and I’ll look forward to speaking with you again in August.

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