One common piece of career advice is to find a mentor, someone you respect and trust to offer guidance on your journey. If you have a mentor, or multiple mentors, how can you take this process a step further to elevate your career development? Start this year off with a strategy to establish your own board of directors. A group of people you can go to for goal setting, problem-solving, and to hold you accountable. When you look at any company with a board, there’s usually a lawyer, a strategist, an accountant, and a human resources leader. Just as a company benefits from various experts, so will you. Surround yourself with people who have skill sets, personalities, and experiences that are different than yours.
What’s in it for me?
- Receive advice from individuals who have specialized knowledge and/or business experience that is different than your background.
- Acquire feedback on how they see you leading yourself and others.
- Accelerate introductions to other key stakeholders in your development.
- Gain encouragement, support, and honest reactions from other professionals who want to see you succeed.
What’s in it for them?
- Expand their relationships.
- Expedite their knowledge of other areas within the organization or the community.
- Improve their strategic and political acumen.
- Fast-track another person in achieving their goals.
How do I approach a potential board member?
- Let the person know that you respect and admire them.
- Explain what you would like the person to do to serve as your advisor on your personal board of directors.
- Offer to reciprocate by helping the potential board member.
What do I need to know about selecting and maximizing my board of directors?
- Identify people you admire inside and outside your organization. These advisors are people with important connections and those who want to see you succeed.
- Use your board to provide guidance about professional image and presence, to expose you to valuable connections, and to provide unique outside perspectives.
- Just as a code of behavior applies to networking groups, it is also critical to thoughtfully manage the advisor-protégé relationship. Most advisors are more than happy to provide guidance to a protégé that is eager to learn and uses the advisor’s time well.
- Expressing gratitude to advisors is a requirement of this special relationship. You can also reciprocate your board’s generosity by offering to support your advisors in their future endeavors.
Take the time to work with your board. Focus on high priority situations and deliver on your commitments. By utilizing this group you can gain exponentially more feedback and advice than through a typical mentor relationship. Remember, your hardest critics can be the best people you learn from this year.
Authored by Barbara A. F. Greene, CEO of Greene and Associates, Inc. A CPI Firm
ICF Master Certified Coach and M.S. Degree in Counseling
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