Top 5 Reasons C-Level Leaders Value Community


Community Blog
Written by Melanie Yamada

JULY 5, 2022

We all have a lot of demands for our time and attention these days – even more so if you’re a C-level executive facing a myriad of challenges. From uncertainty surrounding the economy to the seemingly endless pandemic, business leaders haven’t had a break from adjusting to new curveballs and pivoting their plans.

One way to manage the stress and fallout is for executives to get together with their peers in similar roles. They are facing some of the same situations and can feel a sense of camaraderie about some of their shared challenges.  

We’ve written before about the value of community, and now, we are hearing from community members themselves and sharing some of the common threads in their observations about the value of community in a busy world. 

Here are the top 5 things they cite as the value of getting together with a community of their peers:

  1. Collaboration

C-level executives say that collaborating – and commiserating! – with true peers is both helpful and productive. As the saying goes, it’s lonely at the top, and often C-suite leaders need someone to talk to who understands their unique decisions and challenges. Where better to find that than another leader in your same role at another organization? 

As Tesco security leader Luke Fairless says: 

There’s only one CISO in an organisation, so while you can talk to your team about ideas and problems, they’re not actually faced with the same decisions and dilemmas as you. I, therefore, find talking to other CISOs is tremendously useful. It helps me when I share my problems, get other perspectives, it keeps challenging my thinking and making sure it doesn’t go stale. Frankly, it can also just be a relief to learn that other people are facing the same problems as me, and they don’t have a magic fix, either!” 

Luke Fairless, Director, Technology (Security Program & Capability), Tesco Plc
UK & Ireland CISO Community

 

  1. Learning

Leaders are often “lifelong learners” or “continual learners” – and they have enough humility to know they can still learn something new from others despite what they’ve accomplished in their careers. One of the main things executives look forward to at community get-togethers is learning something new. 

C-suite leaders are also challenged to be forward-looking thinkers who can anticipate what’s next. To do that, they want to hear from a diverse mix of colleagues and experts, thought leaders, people outside their industry, or others at different stages of growth and transformation.

As CIO Prakash Kota of Autodesk explains: 

It's important to surround yourself with people and communities like Evanta where you can learn from others so you can continually grow and avoid stagnation. One of the best pieces of advice I've ever received (and still applies today) is to always get out of your comfort zone. I've learned that you never want to be the smartest person at the table, and if you are, you should move tables.” 

Prakash Kota, CIO, Autodesk
San Francisco CIO Community

 

  1. Relationships

As they continuously learn and face new business challenges, executives rely on a robust network for advice and the exchange of ideas. “Networking” is less about exchanging business cards and more about building relationships with peers that they could call on in an informal way to talk about a new challenge or opportunity.

As Group CIO Craig Charlton of Compass Group explains:

Everyone says ‘networking,’ but it is the deep personal relationships that you build in your career that are critical to your professional success through advice, mentoring and coaching – you get out what you put in. It helps hone your professional style, taking the best from all, and you might even have some fun doing it."

Craig Charlton, Group CIO, Compass Group
UK & Ireland CIO Community

 

  1. New Ideas

C-suite executives across the board tell us that driving growth is their number one priority for the enterprise in 2022. To do that, they are looking for new ideas, innovative solutions, or new ways to solve an old problem. A great source for that can be exchanging ideas with other business leaders. 

Lufthansa Vice President of Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics Susan Wegner shares:

I am convinced that exchange fosters innovation. Thus, communities like Evanta provide huge potential to connect people and industries – especially those parties who are not directly associated with each other. It’s only with the exchange of these fundamentally different parties that innovation gains pace.”

Dr. Susan Wegner, VP, Artificial Intelligence & Data Analytics, Lufthansa
DACH CDO Community

  1. Trust

One of the key things about exchanging ideas or sharing the unvarnished truth is trust. Our executives have almost an unspoken rule about not sharing outside the “walls” of the community. Leaders can share the good, the bad, and the ugly experiences without worrying that someone will share the details later. 

As Global Head of Data and AI Di Mayze of WPP explains:

I’ve loved being part of the Evanta community; in the past year, we have had so many useful and inspiring conversations. You can tell there is trust in this group as the members are willing to be open and honest about the ups and downs of their role.”

Di Mayze, Global Head of Data and AI, WPP
UK & Ireland CDO Community


CHRO Deborah Borg sums up the value of taking time out of your normal schedule to get together with peers, saying:

Evanta curates a professional community which has invaluable networking and learning opportunities. The CHRO role can be a lonely one, so it is very refreshing to be able to step back and hear the challenges and triumphs of others, share best practices, and get great advice from like-minded peers."

Deborah Borg, EVP, CHRO, Bunge
New York CHRO Community


If you are not already a member of an Evanta Community and you are a C-level or senior-most executive for the respective function for a qualified organization, you are invited to apply to join a local community near you.

 

Melanie Yamada headshot

Melanie Yamada

Vice President, Marketing at Evanta, a Gartner Company


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