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As organizations have grown in size and complexity—no matter their location, industry, or  product lines—the need for exceptional leaders has also increased, and the necessary  leadership competencies have changed.  

In response, Executive Development has evolved from classroom-based methods to peer  groups and forums.  

Typically, executive peer groups and forums have a wide-range of senior leadership talent.  Some are senior executives for companies with more than $10 million in revenue that manage  teams of five or more while other Forum members work at firms with many billions in revenues  and manage hundreds of employees.  

These groups generally meet once a month and are run by a professional Facilitator who  moderates discussions and keeps the group focused on leadership development needs  including: 

  • Strategic thinking methodology  
  • Communication skills 
  • Goal setting and accountability tactics 
  • Collaboration skills  

This new, nontraditional Executive Development process leverages experiential learning  techniques and interactivity tactics. And ROI is often difficult to track. However, there are ways  to measure it. 

There are 5 other areas XLN members feel are important: Execution, Alignment, Collaboration,  Retention and Succession. 

  1. Execution—how well an organization is able to execute on its strategic plan and achieve  the desired goals it has set for itself.  
  2. Alignment—how well the business units within a company are able to work toward the  same strategic goals, and maintain a line of sight among different leaders and business  units.  
  3. Collaboration—how well the business units within a company are able to operate  cohesively, and work together to solve problems and capitalize on opportunities.  
  4. Retention—how effectively an organization can retain key performers and what  outcomes are a result of keeping such performers longer. 
  5. Succession—how prepared an organization is to carry the strategic plan several years  into the future by determining if the company has ready replacements for key positions  and bench strength.  

Execution 

One survey found that 49% of business leaders report a gap between their organization’s ability  to articulate a strategy and their effectiveness in executing on those deliverables.  

Learning to cooperatively create an organizational strategy and then learning how to move it  towards execution is one way to see the tangible results of a leadership forum.  

Alignment 

Establishing and supporting alignment among the executive team of an organization is critical  to achieving success. Executing effectively on strategy, as outlined above, hinges on senior  leaders having a clear and concise understanding of direction and goals. A peer group helps you  learn ways to build open lines of communication and foster the exchange of ideas and  information among executives outside of your functional group and direct control.  

Collaboration 

A large body of research supports the positive influence that collaboration can have on business  productivity and an organization’s performance. A peer group helps you learn how to build and  reinforce a culture of collaboration because it give you the opportunity in a non-critical  environment to have and experience uninhibited dialogue among colleagues, how to the  navigate conflict and learn conflict resolution skills.  

Real collaboration is about a virtually limitless exchange of ideas, and a peer group helps you to  improve your ability to foster these exchanges.  

Retention 

Perhaps the most important measure of leadership development for an organization is how  prepared they are in regards to retention and succession planning. A large body of research has  determined that high performers in the workplace need the support network, experiences, and  development opportunities to grow into tomorrow’s leaders. A leadership forum is invaluable  for non-Fortune 500 companies because it gives senior executives access to this network. This  is especially important when smaller companies do not have the internal resources or size to  create similar types of internal forums on their own.  

Succession

An executive forum provides leaders a place where they can develop their skills and ultimately  grow their companies. They also provide a path for companies to retain their executives by  providing opportunities for problem solving and professional growth so the senior executives  don’t need to purse career growth outside the organization.  

Ultimately forums help executives make more informed decisions as they develop all of the  skills discussed above, and as they move to the top of their organization they produce better  business results.