In a recent post, I wrote about The Horizontal Organizational Chart and how leaders who find themselves in new roles should pay special attention to their peers – their horizontal org chart. A few days later, I heard a story from a client that brought this to life.

This talented leader has recently left one company to take a significant leadership role at another. His new company is in a different industry and has a headquarters in a different city. Most people would quickly lose touch with their peer groups in that sort of circumstance.

But this guy isn‘t like most leaders. More importantly, his peer group at his former company isn’t like most peer groups. It seems that a few years back, they started a group habit of holding an informal Friday afternoon conference call. Its purpose was as simple as it was unstructured – to stay connected and to help each other with any challenges facing them in their roles as leaders. Importantly, this standing call was created by and hosted by the peer group, not a boss (though, perhaps not coincidentally, their boss is one of the most progressive and developmentally minded leaders I know). It was their own initiative, not a corporate program.

That’s cool enough, but get this. After my client switched companies (complete with the farewell parties and so on), he got a phone call from one of his former peers. “It’s just not the same without you. I wish you were still on our Friday calls,” he said.

Then the bright idea struck them – why not have this valued member of the peer group continue to attend even if he’s no longer in the company? And that’s just what he does now.

The point isn‘t that everyone should start peer group calls (it’s not always practical and wouldn’t be natural for all). Nor am I arguing that you should keep this level of open communication with every person who leaves your organization (sometimes people have the gall to go to competitors, and we rightly have to be careful with our own organization’s information).

The point IS that, when done thoughtfully, peers can create relationships that add real business and personal value both now and into the future.

What horizontal best practices do you see in your world?