Executive Roundtable Etiquette: Making the Most of Your Time

A popular adage says, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” 

Executive roundtables are an exciting opportunity for you to bask in the expertise of other business leaders who have experienced the same struggles, celebrated the same triumphs, and asked the same questions that you are currently grappling with. 

Successful execution requires all participants to agree to a few norms of executive roundtable etiquette. By working within these expectations, participants will get the most out of the experience and leave knowing that it was time well spent. 

Attend with the Intention to Learn

The value of an executive roundtable is it provides an opportunity for you to tap into the knowledge of every person who is there with you. Even if you ARE the most senior person in the discussion, each of your peers has something to say, and it pays to listen. 

As a business leader, pursue executive roundtables with hunger. It’s one method of continuing your education and growth, something that every executive should prioritize. Without the intention to learn, you run the risk of stagnating, and in the world of business, stagnation means falling behind the rest of the pack. 

Have an Open Mind

Your fellow executives may approach and solve problems with methods that you would never even consider. They may handle situations with strategies you find unacceptable for your own team. 

Learning can sometimes be uncomfortable, especially when we’re asked to tolerate information we don’t believe in or want to hear. 

This phenomenon is called “cognitive dissonance,” officially defined as: 

the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.

Oxford Languages

While it may be burdensome at first, cognitive dissonance is a positive sign of change. It means that your brain is chipping away at problems and shifting your worldview to account for your new learning. 

Ask Questions

In addition to providing answers for others regarding the topics you feel confident speaking on, you should also ask plenty of questions. 

When you and your peers enter into a roundtable discussion with questions on your mind, the discussion is bound to be more lively and flow with purpose. 

Even more so than coming in with questions, be flexible enough to formulate new queries as the conversation evolves. Sticking to your predetermined list limits the scope of your learning. Roundtables are about what your group needs, and should become more personalized as the conversation continues. 

If you’re having trouble coming up with your initial questions, here are ten to get you started:

  1. What decisions are you glad that you made in the last few months? 
  2. What is your company doing to attract innovative talent?
  3. Are there any major changes to your business/hiring/leadership practices you plan on implementing in the next year? How will you be changing? Why?
  4. What skills do you plan to pursue? What resources are you using to learn those skills?
  5. Are there any profound findings in your most recent SWOT analysis? How do you plan to approach those findings?
  6. What have you read recently that you feel has given you a new perspective or inspired your work?
  7. Do you have any employees who have impressed you for any reason? How do you plan to cultivate that performance into long-term success?
  8. How are you handling conflict resolution and employee engagement?
  9. What traits are most important for a leader to unlearn? Why do you feel these traits are disadvantageous to the role?
  10. How do you keep your company in line with your mission? How often do you calibrate your employees and your company culture to ensure everyone is working with this common goal at the heart of their work?

Take Your First Step!

Catalyst Group ECR’s roundtable program is for those who want a coach, not a consultant. It’s for those who want to arrive upon their own solutions, not be provided a scripted list of improvements. 

Simply, Catalyst Group ECR wants to cater your leadership coaching to the areas where growth is necessary while helping you sustain and celebrate your current successes. We bring together a peer group of business owners in a confidential, safe space. The goal is growth, never judgment.

Touch base with Lori to learn more about what to expect during your discussion, including executive roundtable etiquette, what to expect during your participation, and upcoming networking opportunities. 

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