Vistage Chair October 8, 2019

What does it take to become a Vistage Chair?

What does it take to become a Vistage Chair

We’ve talked a lot about the Vistage Chair role on our blog recently, from why we need you to get involved to reasons to choose the role to what Vistage Chairs actually do. Plenty of useful advice, we hope, that will help you to decide whether the role is right for you as you pare back or completely relinquish your existing leadership responsibilities.

If you feel that being rewarded – mentally, altruistically and financially – for helping the next generation of business leaders on their path to success is the right role for you, you’ll want to learn if you’re the right fit for us, too. Here, we’ll answer all your questions on just what we look for in our Chairs, and explain a little more about our onboarding process. 

What we look for in our Chairs

First and foremost, it’s vital that all of our Vistage Chairs have a history of leading or holding senior roles in a business. This is our biggest point of difference from other coaching providers. They may have fantastic coaches with great accreditation and glowing reviews, but no practical, real-world experience. 

Our Chairs, on the other hand, can talk to other Chief Execs on the same level. They can empathise with the sleepless nights, the tricky decisions and everything else that goes hand-in-hand with running a business. It’s more than just coaching. That ability to share their own personal experiences in similar situations and to mentor members through is incredibly effective. 

The second thing we look for is characters who are naturally engaging and gregarious. We like to describe our Chairs as the sort of people who would be great company if you bumped into them at a bar or sat next to them at dinner. It’s something all of our Chairs have in common – a genuine interest in people. 

However, along with this genuine interest in people, we’re looking for Chairs who have the ability and willingness to challenge others at the same time. Vistage members don’t want to simply be coached or talked at –  they want meetings and one-to-ones that will lead to great results. A good Chair will hold their members accountable for their actions and for what they plan to do next. 

Finally, to borrow a phrase used by Clive Woodward, former England rugby player and coach, at a recent exec summit, we’re looking for people who are “sponges, not rocks”. To be a successful Chair, you need to be open to new ways of working and learning – generally open to doing things differently. Adaptability is a must, as well as the humility to accept that things may sometimes need to be approached in a different way. 

Once we’ve found the right people with all of these traits, it’s time to get started…

Where it all begins…

When recruiting new Chairs, we set the bar deliberately high. Each year, we receive around 500 enquiries, but will only train around 20 new Chairs. 

We’re not highlighting this point to put off potential applicants. But we don’t take just anyone. For paying Vistage members, it’s vital that their groups are led by the best of the best, so it’s crucial that only those we believe are the best fit for the role make the cut. 

Once a new Chair is onboard, they’ll benefit from an incredible training programme – practical content designed to provide all the information a new Chair needs to know without the boredom of sitting and simply listening to a trainer. We offer around 150 hours of training in the first year alone: training conducted by existing Chairs who know what the role is all about, and genuinely know what a new Chair needs to make their group a success. 

The practical training exercises can be quite an eye-opener for some. Part of the Chair role will be creating a group that is built on trust – a group where members feel they can truly open up and be completely honest with other members, with the Chair and with themselves. This is embedded into the training programme, too. It encourages new Chairs to open up, reveal their vulnerabilities and talk deeply about things that have happened to them and that have shaped them, in order to encourage others to do the same. 

Training encourages new Chairs to open up, reveal their vulnerabilities and talk deeply about things that have happened to them and that have shaped them

This training is vital for a successful group. But the support doesn’t end there. Vistage is in the process of bringing on board a Chair Development Partner – someone whose role is to provide as much or as little support as is needed in the field to enable each Chair to succeed. 

Chair training is combined with an incredible Chair community and a fantastic ongoing support network. We have a dedicated group build team. We have a marketing team that will run specific campaigns for new Chairs, helping to generate leads. We also have both Member Services and Finance teams, too, taking away some of the administrative tasks. 

What this means is that our Chairs will not only have the support they need to get up and running, but once they’re up and running, they can concentrate on what they’re good at and what they love: coaching, mentoring and developing their members. 

What concerns do new Chairs have? 

With any new experience, there will be questions and concerns that arise before moving forward. There are two that tend to crop up amongst those considering a Vistage Chair role. 

The first is the question of time – the worry that the combination of training, setting up a group from scratch and maintaining and growing that group will take up too much time. We see building a Vistage group as similar to building a start-up from scratch: this initial investment of time is the sweat equity needed to make it work. 

There are huge differences between starting a Vistage group and starting a standalone business, however. As a Vistage Chair, you’ll benefit from building your own business with an established brand with a strong reputation. What’s more, you’ll benefit from flexibility, continued support, tools and techniques that have been proven to work – a continued investment in your investment and a true desire to make your group a success. 

The second is the question of money – weighing up whether to become a Vistage Chair or to focus more on consultancy projects for the best income. Our Chairs do have the potential to earn in excess of £150,000 doing something they enjoy. But for our existing Chairs, it’s not just about the money. They know that they can earn an income in a role that’s incredibly diverse, where they work with interesting people and where they can genuinely make a difference to members’ lives and livelihoods. And they also know that they don’t need to go out and look for new contract opportunities when the current two-month project is winding up. 

In short, not everyone will be suited to the Vistage Chair role. Our selection criteria are high, ensuring that we give our members the best possible support for their businesses. But for those who do come on board, it’s an exciting and fulfilling role with world-class training, incredible ongoing support, and the chance to make a real difference. 

Ready to take the next step and apply to become a Vistage Chair? Click here to find out how.

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