As the old saying goes, it’s lonely at the top.
If you ask them, most business owners and executives will freely admit they sometimes feel isolated—left alone with problems that no one can relate to.
“It’s not uncommon to feel stuck in a situation,” says Jean-Marc Desheraud, Plant Manager of Barry Callebaut, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality cocoa and chocolate products. “And it’s not easy to find people who understand what you’re dealing with.”
Fortunately, these leadership challenges tend to be similar from organization to organization, or even from one leader to another.
And when exchanges between leaders take place in an organized setting, these experiences are elevated further. Given a bit of objective distance from a challenging—or even painful—business challenge, executives are often remarkably forthcoming about the difficulties, their responses, and the results.
In 2012, Desheraud found himself in just such a situation as he set out to find an executive networking group. After a bit of searching, he chose DVIRC’s Manufacturing Council.
As a member of a large, multinational enterprise, Desheraud sought a group that would connect him with the local business community and further his understanding of manufacturing in the state of Pennsylvania. He decided to join the council after a few trial visits, and today he has already found great insight from his fellow members.
“The quality comes from their ability to deal with new situations and talk through ways to tackle them,” he says. “You have the experience of these people, but also their experience in their own industries.
- “During one of our sessions I mentioned some energy-related issues, and someone in the group had a connection for an energy-savings company,” he continues. “That helped us to save easily $100,000 over the year. So the contacts benefit us greatly.”
- Time spent talking to other business leaders can offer a view of what works…and what doesn’t.
- There is priceless wisdom to be gained from speaking to others about how they resolved certain issues.