It can be lonely at the top

Why CHROs Find Value In Peer Groups

Are confidential leadership and personal dilemmas often part and parcel of your role as an end-responsible HR executive? Have you ever wished you had the support of a group of HR executives from other organizations? A network of peers with whom you can discuss and navigate your way to a solution? Then please read on, this article is for you.

Every CHRO faces a range of difficult leadership and sometimes personal challenges. For CHROs, these types of challenges and dilemmas are always high-stake and often confidential. They can feel quite isolated or even lonely in tackling their most tricky dilemmas.Having to navigate your way through the dynamics between a Board of Directors and the CEO for instance. Or performance issues in an executive team that the CEO is aware of, agrees with, but is not dealing with. You may well have joined a company where your colleagues see HR as a tactical and operational function. Your previous experience was in a company where HR was a strategic business function. So how can you ensure that in your new organization HR has a strong voice at the table for all people-related matters? It may help to know that you are not alone in facing such dilemmas.

To support CHROs in these and the many other challenges they face, KennedyFitch launched the Peer Group Coaching for CHROs initiative in 2021. Asked why she launched this initiative, KennedyFitch partner Lucille Adriaens  shared her deep passion for supporting  HR leaders and activating the power of ‘peer coaching’ as a development opportunity.

Founded on KennedyFitch’s expertise as HR executives, executive coaches and facilitators, Peer Group coaching is a perfect fit with our purpose to support the HR community to develop to the next level. Curious about what type of challenges many CHROs are wrestling with, and how Peer Group Coaching works? In this article, Lucille shares her insights and experience.

Typical challenges CHROs face

It’s both the nature of the work as well as the position that CHROs hold in their organization that create the typical challenges they face. As Lucille speaks with many CHROs in a variety of industries, she has a clear vision of why Peer Group Coaching is a powerful format. “For the more practical challenges CHROs face, they can rely on the HR team and also tap into their personal networks for content-related topics, such as HR strategies and policies. But for navigating more tricky, often confidential, and even personal dilemmas, it is a lot more challenging to find a safe and appropriate platform for peer input and support.”

Listening to a broad range of CHROs over the years, some of the more common challenges she hears CHROs have to face include: the strategic positioning of HR (navigating differences of opinion with the Board and/or CEO on the role HR can and should take, such as getting more involved in business strategy decisions); the inevitable boundary of their expertise (expected to have the ‘answer’ for all issues, while on their own learning curve); and ethical dilemmas (the clash of personal values with company decisions or policies, or the pressure to share information on the CEO with the Board or Equity Partners). “These types of challenges are always high-stake and often confidential. CHROs can feel quite isolated or even lonely in tackling their most tricky dilemmas.”

Who signs up for this?

But it doesn’t need to feel lonely at the top. This is where the Peer Group Coaching for CHROs comes in. Lucille explains, “All participants are end-responsible for HR in their organizations. This means they bring in their vast experience as well as the seniority that CHROs find so valuable in meeting together.” Every group has a rich diversity of perspectives, across different industries and maturity of the company/lifecycle – but all with a common desire to tackle their dilemmas, and help each other succeed.

What value do the participants seek and what does it offer that other programs or platforms can’t?

What makes this format so powerful for CHROs? Participants have shared that it’s inspiring and refreshing to work with their fellow CHROs who all face similar challenges, and get immediate value from the learnings and insights In a setting where they know they can fully trust each other. In Lucille’s experience: “The seniority of the group, the confidential set-up for transparent exchange and the facilitation by an experienced executive coach is the unique mix of ingredients that makes this format so impactful. Having such a safe place to meet with peers  brings an instant connection and bonding that taps into the collective experience of the group. Together with the value of being supported by an experienced executive coach to work through dilemmas together, it’s a unique opportunity to connect and learn from other CHRO participants too.”

How it works and what to expect 

When asked how the Peer Group Coaching is set up, Lucille explains: “Each group has a maximum of 6 members and meets 5 times a year for 2.5 hours at a time (3 in-person and 2 virtual meetings). The group explores a dilemma or personal challenge presented by one of the group members under the strictest confidentiality and with the support of an expert executive coach. Each group is carefully composed based on diversity and seniority”.

Inspired and ready to explore for yourself? Simply get in touch with Lucille to discuss your questions and explore your interest. A new Peer Group is set to launch in the Netherlands soon. For CHROs outside the Netherlands, we have already gathered interest in Peer Groups for Germany, Switzerland and the USA as well as an international/virtual only Peer Group and are happy to explore further with you. Download the brochure for more information or contact Lucille Adriaens:+31 6 30142448,

Share This

Copy Link to Clipboard