Every senior decision-maker knows it gets lonely at the top.
All such leaders are routinely faced with staff challenges, strategic dilemmas, an enormous range of gut-wrenching choices.
At such times, an opportunity to bounce ideas off a group of like-minded peers would be most welcome. But where can today's male or female CEO turn to receive this kind of high-level support?
Answer: TEC Ltd., otherwise known as The Executive Committee.
Because unless you've been invited to take your own seat in the corporate Big Chair, you can't really appreciate the intense pressures that every senior executive must face during the course of a single work day.
"Being in the position of bottom-line accountability is lonely and difficult. The success and failure of each decision can put not only the future of an organization at stake, but the lives of its suppliers, each of its employees and their families," explains W. Lynn Tanner, president of TEC Canada.
"So how do our chief executives know they're making the right calls? By having them challenged by 15 other CEOs and presidents who don't have a vested interest, outside of wanting to ensure the right decision is made."
And that's where TEC comes in. It's a peer and support group made up of the most dynamic men and women in Canadian business. Because not even the most accomplished decision makers can come up with ALL the right answers, 100 per cent of the time.
Originally organized in 1957, TEC invites chief executives from small and mid-sized Canadian companies to apply for membership. When they join, they'll find an enormous weight has been lifted from their shoulders. More than 750 Canadian leaders (and 13,000 internationally) have already come aboard, engaging and challenging each other in 14 Canadian cities.
Here's how it works: A group of no more than 16 member-leaders comes together once a month to share insights, ideas and information during a day-long session, presided over by a fully qualified TEC Chair. These are experienced experts with proven leadership skills and extensive specialized training.
"In addition, the chair offers plenty of opportunities for one-to-one exchanges, at least two hours of personal time with the chair each month," explains Jakub Grigar, TEC Canada's communications and public relations co-ordinator.
Your associates in TEC offer a brand of support which is often extremely useful in terms of your personal life as well. An important long-term goal: To help each member to develop an ideal work-life balance. On the business front, your TEC group can help you come to grips with a broad range of issues from hostile takeovers to succession plans to deteriorating partnerships, with the chair discreetly and efficiently making sure the discussion stays on topic.
TEC is a particularly attractive option for women who find themselves in senior administrative jobs. Female presidents and CEOs encounter a unique set of challenges, particularly when they're placed in command of corporate teams that have not yet fully emerged from outmoded and ultra-traditional management models.
At TEC, they'll be welcomed by their equals, highly accomplished women willing to share insights, information and inspiration.
More than 300 male and female experts (known as resource speakers) from the international business community had already addressed the membership of TEC's Canadian branches through the end of August, 2006.
Many more are already booked for next fall and winter. Speakers are carefully chosen, addressing members on an issue-specific basis. A strict limit on group size makes it possible for every member to get the max from each session.
But TEC offers more than just an exchange of ideas and strategies. At TEC, members are held accountable. When a particular course of action is decided upon, your peers will keep you honest, "keeping your feet to the fire," in the words of TEC Director of Marketing Michael W. Palmer.
"They simply won't allow you to let yourself, your employees or your customers down," he adds.
A quick glance at the TEC website (www.tec-canada.com' target='_new'>www.tec-canada.com) is the best way to illustrate how well the system works. Simply move your cursor to the heading, "Is TEC For You?" and follow it to recent testimonials.
But let's leave the final word to W. Lynn Warren: "To lead is to inspire. So where do leaders go to get inspired? TEC. Because that's where leaders find unbiased peer support, refurbish their intellectual capital and find peers who are solely concerned with ensuring each other's success."
Membership in TEC is by invitation only. Qualified presidents and CEOs of both sexes are invited to attend an introductory event or gain an introduction to a TEC chair for a personal orientation session.