The 14 Fundamentals


Here at Vistage, we consider ourselves a unique organization designed to help members become better leaders, make better decisions, and get better results. In the following 14 “Fundamentals,” we outline the core behaviors that, when practiced consistently, create a truly extraordinary Vistage group, and with it, truly extraordinary leaders. If you are interested in learning about The Vistage Way, read about what factors we believe make up exceptional leaders.

1. Create a safe and trustful place for the group.

Hold group confidentiality sacred. Treat every discussion as important; it is to the person who initiated it. Try not to diminish conversations with potentially inappropriate humor and demonstrate trust by honoring commitments, being reliable, and being there for each other. Always have each other’s backs!

2. Create an intentional wake.

Strive to have a positive influence on everyone around you. Recognize that, as a leader, you have the ability to create a wave that impacts the world. Set an example for others by being the change you want to see.

3. Promote learning from your Vistage experience.

Take ownership for finding and delivering value. Choose to learn from others and choose to share your own wisdom as well. Take at least one nugget of knowledge or wisdom from every 121 and group meeting. Become a teacher of Vistage learnings in your organization. Share with the group ways that you’ve implemented Vistage concepts in your company.

4. Be care-frontational.

Seek and give feedback graciously, for the success of the group depends on feedback. Demonstrate that you care about your fellow members’ business and personal lives, and know that they care about yours. Challenge the status quo with respect and urgency. If you disagree, do it visibly, elegantly, and in the moment.

5. Be genuinely curious.

Seek first to understand the story behind your fellow members’ beliefs that are stopping or guiding them. Take pride in asking revealing questions that clarify the issues, rather than offering solutions disguised as questions. Remember that the quality of the answer is directly related to the quality of the question. Challenge your own truths, beliefs, and reality, as well as those of others. Most importantly, listen generously. Listen for the contribution in each other’s speaking vs. listening from your own assessments, opinions, or judgments.

6. Think greatness.

Create a world-class organization and high performance team at Vistage and in your company. Push beyond “good enough” in every interaction. Have the courage to be bold and set high goals. Always challenge yourself to find a better way.

7. Be a model of accountability.

Demonstrate accountability by following up on all commitments. Use Personal Action Summaries effectively by stating them in the form of a verb, noun, and specific date. Seek updates from others on their actions from previously processed challenges, and provide updates to the group on your own. 

8. Check your ego at the door.

Take yourself lightly. You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room, and you don’t have to be right. Be vulnerable. Have the courage to let people see your imperfect, authentic self. All feedback is a gift. Accept it as such. 

9. Respect time: yours and others’.

Arrive before the meeting starts so others don’t have to wait for you. Return from breaks on time and stay until the meeting ends so that no one misses your insights. Show respect for the speaker and your fellow members by staying present and engaged and by not checking electronic devices. Let the group know at least 2 days in advance if you’re unable to attend a meeting.    

10. Strengthen the group.

Seek and recommend candidates, with the goal of having at least 16 members, that will improve the quality of the interactions in the group. Ask yourself, “Who is missing?” and then work with the members and the chair to fill that void. Regularly provide feedback on how the group is performing and suggest ways to improve. Assist with the integration of new members by volunteering to be their “buddy” for the first 3 months.

11. Be prepared and intentional.

Know your goal. Have a plan for every meeting (121 and group). Read the agenda in advance and always prepare with a question, opportunity, or challenge to share or discuss. Share monthly rates of change so that fellow members know your organization’s KPIs. Share your Annual Business Plan “One Page Summary” so the group can help you reach your goals. Use meetings as a time to be strategic; discuss how to work ON the business, rather than IN it.

12. Know your group members.

Get to know your fellow members intimately, both their business and their personal lives. Devote 5 minutes during each group meeting to get to know something personal about another member. When being the host, share intimate details about your business and personal life. 

13. Be mindful about conflicts of interest.

While it’s OK to respond if a fellow group member asks for help with their business, never directly solicit business from other group members. In the event that a substantial business relationship develops with another member, advise the rest of the group to be sure that the relationship doesn’t prevent you from sharing your deepest and darkest secrets 

14. Have fun at every meeting.

Participate in appropriate and respectful humor when we’re together. Demonstrate caring by avoiding sarcastic remarks and ensuring that humor is not at another member’s expense. Find joy in every day.