Welcome to Leadership Psyche – a blog on the workplace, professional dev and leadership, I’m Dr Somjee. Today I’ll be talking about the importance of having a Personal Board of Directors, and how to develop one for your professional needs.
When working with executive/professional coaching clients regardless of stage of career, I often encourage people to develop a BOD. Today’s business landscape is incredibly competitive and it is critical for people to have support regardless of stage of career, industry, whether you own a business or work for someone else. Having a mentor is useful but having a personal ‘Board of Directors’ (BOD), in addition to a mentor, is one of the best investments you can make in your career. The right support can allow you to be more reflective and gain clarity, make better professional decisions, inspire you to break through psychological barriers that hold you back, and hold you accountable
This is a group of people you can turn to and discuss various career or business issues, obtain advice, and gain new perspectives. I often see people benefit greatly from having such a board – both professionally and personally. While there is no one formula to creating a BOD, here are some guidelines that can be useful to start.
Diverse – One of the worst things you can do is to surround yourself with people similar to you. Surrounding yourself with people who act and think differently than yourself can increase creativity and provide new perspectives. When creating your own board, try to make the board as diverse as possible in terms of age, sex, race, stage of career, and so forth. Similar to companies with diverse work forces, a diverse board fosters greater innovation and creativity which can lead to improved problem solving and insights.
Champion – It is helpful to include someone who is positive and supportive of you. This is the person who helps you feel hopeful about your dreams and reminds you of your worth. This is the person you can turn to when you feel defeated or stuck. Champions, however, should not make up the majority of your board as they can lead you astray with their unfailing positivity.
Candid – This board member tells it to you like it is – they are blunt. They will hear you out and be curious about your thoughts and ideas, but will not automatically agree with you just to please you. They are going to provide honest, critical feedback – even when you may not want them to!
Explorer – This person pushes you to clarify thoughts, encourages different perspectives, challenges your thinking at times. They do not necessarily tell you what to do but instead push you to stretch your vantage point on yourself and career, and help you be more self aware about decisions you are making, or thoughts you are having, regarding your career or business. Finding an explorer for your board can be difficult – you may be be able to find someone you know, or may end up hiring a professional (coach).
Industry – Having someone on your board who is successful and in the same industry as you is invaluable. Additionally, it is just as valuable to also include some people from completely different industries as well. They can provide fresh perspectives, and conversations with them are likely to spark new ideas.
Formal/informal – Some people on your board may know they are on your board – and some may not! You can approach friends, colleagues, executive or business coaches to be on your board etc. However, some people may be on your board informally because you may not know them well enough to ask. Your board can include people whom you obtain knowledge or inspiration from. They may include professionals you may interact with from time to time or people you have never met but have read their books, follow on social media, or have heard them speak and find them inspirational, or knowledgeable.
Meetings – Given your board of directors can be made up of anyone, anywhere, remember that it is not necessary to meet with everyone at once, nor do you have to meet in person. You can meet in person, call or videoconference them one at a time, or perhaps a few at a time, on an as needed basis, or at pre-determined times. It is up to you to figure out what works best for you and them.
Refresh – Every year or two, re-visit your board and see if it needs to be tweaked. Adding or replacing people to keep things fresh may be necessary to help you with different stages and demands of your career.
Give Back – Make sure that the people who are on your board are also getting back from you in some way. Is there a way you can help them with their career or business? Is there a perspective, information, or talent you possess that can help them on their journey?
While there are many ways to populate a board, the above examples can provide a basic framework from which to start. A board is a must and can be a great source of psychological, informational, professional, and inspirational support and help you accelerate your career, business or strengthen your leadership skills.