Vistage’s Jim Lucas Helps CEOs, Business Leaders See the Forest for the Trees

Jim Lucas, the Chair of Vistage Brandywine Valley, helps provide the think tank that every CEO and business leader needs to succeed.

Where do CEOs, business owners, and other senior executives go to get advice, to improve their leadership skills or learn new ones?

Oftentimes, the answer is nowhere.

Honest, objective, and empathetic advice is hard to find, especially for leaders who are surrounded by their subordinates all day, every day. Consequently, businesses suffer because they are stuck in the daily grind. Leaders are so caught up with the day to day that they can’t escape and find new ways to grow and adapt.

Enter Jim Lucas, the Chair of the Brandywine Valley Chapter of Vistage, the world’s leading CEO/owner membership organization that provides the private, peer-to-peer advisory board – a think tank, for all intents and purposes – that every leader needs to succeed. Jim and the network of 60 business owners and CEOs he has cultivated in four separate think tanks possess the insight to help your company flourish.

As it is so often said, it can be lonely at the top. Every business owner and CEO needs a board of advisors and peers that can help him or her see the forest for the trees. That is the “advantage” of standing on a “vista” – hence Vistage.

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Vistage enables leaders from private and family-owned companies, public companies, and nonprofits to come together to learn strategies that help them become better leaders and solve the complex challenges they face.

“Vistage is a learning organization, so my focus is helping members to learn more about their organization and themselves,” said Lucas, a member of the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry’s Board of Directors. “CEOs live in a lonely world. They rarely get challenged. They often can’t go to the people who report to them for advice.

“But what they can do is learn from their peers, and that’s what Vistage does. It creates a group of business leaders from different industries who come together once a month and pick each other’s brains. Vistage helps them see the whole landscape.”

Each group contains between 14 and 18 members, none of whom are competitors, but all of whom have similar experiences.

Vistage is the world’s leading CEO/owner membership organization. Image via Vistage.

“Our members want to be able to have people sitting around the table who can add value to the experience,” said Lucas, a Naval Academy graduate. “Nine times out of 10, we don’t recruit. But there are times when we might need someone with HR experience, or an accountant, an attorney, or someone from the manufacturing world.”

Confidentiality is critical to the group’s members, and they must therefore sign an understanding that what they hear in their peer-to-peer advisory board group stays within the group.

The biggest challenge for Lucas is finding the leaders who are willing to dedicate one day a month to being in the group, the ones who realize they need to work on their business while not being at the business.

“Not everyone is a good fit,” he said. “It’s hard to remove yourself from your business. One day a month is basically five percent of your time, but it’s an important time where you can step back and think strategically and reflect.”

Peter Kurzyna – the owner of Honey Brook’s Hillside Custom, which builds packaging equipment for the food industry – is a member of Lucas’s group. And he has seen the time he’s invested in Vistage pay off for his company.

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“It’s hard to pull yourself away from work, but you have to look at it as an investment,” said Kurzyna. “It’s interesting to see how many business leaders face similar issues but handle them differently.

“It’s that different perspective that’s so valuable. For me, personally, I’ve become so much better at communicating. At Hillside, we’ve always had sales meetings and marketing meetings, but we never had management meetings. We’re doing that now, and it has helped us tremendously.”

Kurzyna echoes the sentiment of every CEO and leader with whom Lucas works.

“If you keep doing the same thing,” he said, “your business is in trouble.”

Click here for more information on Jim Lucas and Vistage Brandywine Valley.

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