What the Cycling Peloton Says About Executive Leadership

How to reduce headwinds and lead with less effort

The iconic images of the Tour de France usually depict the peloton, that tightly packed group of cyclists in brightly colored jerseys. Most of us have seen video of these formations and watched as the race leader strategically gives up position to a teammate and falls into line behind.

There is good science behind these racing tactics. By riding in the peloton, a competitor can experience up to 95% less drag than when peddling alone. The greatest advantage accrues to those in the middle of the pack, but even the leader reduces her effort simply by joining the group.

Those of you who have read some of my other commentaries  know I’m a fan of analogies, and I think the peloton is a great one for business owners and executives.

Think about it. Having the best people behind you is among the most important factors in easing a senior executive’s day-to-day effort and stress, while increasing success.

What’s more, being able to hand off important projects to other individuals (which many executives find difficult to do) reduces the drag on your own time and attention. Turning over control may feel like “giving up the lead” but it’s actually a strategic move, which helps ensure you have the energy left in the tank to sprint down the home stretch—whether that’s to reach an ambitious revenue target, secure a lucrative acquisition, or achieve another goal.

Not coincidentally, peer advisory groups mimic the peloton. A platinum Vistage peer advisory, for example, will bring together up to 15 committed, insightful, and variously experienced business executives with the sole objective of helping each other reduce the headwinds they face. Each month, a few members bring a critical problem to the group and we proceed through increasingly deep levels of examination to spark a breakthrough solution.

I’m often amazed at the frequency of “aha!” moments that emerge from this process. That’s why I chose to facilitate my own Vistage peer advisory in the Sacramento area.

Is it possible to get to the same place without a Vistage group? Sure, sometimes. But it will usually take longer. Having a Vistage peloton, if you will, allows you to draft off of others’ experience, learn from their mistakes, and expand your vision by seeing from many different perspectives. It’s a powerful tool for any business leader.

If you’d like to talk through the possibility of joining my Vistage peer advisory group, which has a few spaces remaining, please get in touch. There’s no obligation in a conversation, of course. I will simply provide more information about how it works and help you explore whether Vistage is right for you.


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