The Value of Problem Solving With Peers

Courtesy of Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

When I started as the first executive director of the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, the National Center for Family Philanthropy was one of the first groups I was introduced to by my board lead at that time, Julie Fisher Cummings. Feeling welcomed by this organization and its leaders, I benefited from listening to those who had done amazing work and persevered through hard-earned lessons engrained at NCFP conferences and webinars.

Over time, I built relationships with a set of leaders who shared my values and had different strengths and lived experiences. Yet, in between the conferences and calls, I found myself leaving those interactions hungry for my own personal board of directors and advisers.  Luckily for me, nearly five years ago I was invited into a small collection of professionals who felt the same way and asked me to commit to a monthly “Kitchen Cabinet” meeting during which we would go deep into subjects and build the kind of trust it takes to truly be vulnerable about our biggest challenges and to support each other through the long term.

Wishing everyone had this type of support, I was thrilled when the NCFP included this Kitchen Cabinet concept into CEO Cohort Councils and promoted me to share my story. The NCFP CEO Cohort Councils offer a structured process for participants to think more expansively about a current challenge or dilemma they are facing in their role. Each Cohort is made up of a group of four CEOs sharing characteristics (age or size of foundation, years in role, etc.) or specific interest areas (working with board, managing staff, etc.).The goal of this peer consultancy structure is to provide a safe space for each CEO participant to a) present a challenge to the group and receive concrete, helpful feedback from peers, and b) be an active listener and share guidance and advice to their other cohort members.

This is a three-page Kitchen Cabinets outline from a Leap Ambassador Gathering in May 2021 from three leaders I respect a great deal. I also want to share a wonderful blog post from one of those three authors, Jenn Hoos Rothberg from the Einhorn Collaborative, that includes further links and resources.

I hope you feel inspired to find your pack or recruit your kitchen cabinet to enrich your experience and accelerate your learning and impact.

Doug Bitonti Stewart is Executive Director of the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation

The views and opinions expressed in individual blog posts are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the National Center for Family Philanthropy.