One Mentor is no Longer Enough: Create Your Personal Board of Directors
Every professional who expects to successfully navigate corporate structures needs someone in his/her corner to bounce ideas off, get a perspective on an issue, provide guidance on his/her career path or even open some doors. That person is mentor, but these days, one mentor simply isn’t enough – no one person possesses all the skills necessary for their protégés to succeed. Like organizations with board of directors who have various skills, professionals require members of their personal board to possess diverse skills based on their unique requirements.
Think about what you’d like to accomplish in your career in the next five years. What skills do you require and what assistance would make the process smoother? Based on your requirements, make a long list of people who are suitable to sit on your personal board. Segment your list into: People who know you very well like friends and family, people in your professional circle who you admire and respect, and other professionals such as your dentist, doctor, accountant and lawyer. Let the list sit for a day-or-two, then revisit and make any changes.
Choose five to six people to be on your personal board of directors, and only choose people who are willing to assist you and do not have a stake in your success. Also have an alternate list just in case you cannot get your first choices. Additionally, think about what you can offer in return to the people on your list because you’ll be asking them for a huge favor. Everyone has unfulfilled needs, and need assistance in some area, but it may take effort on your part to discover what those needs are. But, it’s worth the effort and increases the likelihood of them saying yes to being on your Board of Directors.
When choosing members of your personal board of directors, keep in mind the following types of people:
Connector: A respected member of the community who has authority, the ability to influence others, and access to an extensive network of contacts.
Industry Expert: Someone who has accomplished what you are trying to do.
Sponsor: A senior level person in your organization who is willing to open doors for you, but you have to be memorable so he is aware of you.
Listener: Someone who has excellent listening skills, is empathetic, and will allow you to rant when necessary to clear your mind so you can focus on what is truly important.
The-No-Nonsense Person: Someone who you can count on to tell you exactly like it is and holds you accountable to achieving your goals.
When you approach the people to be on your personal board, let them know what you are trying to accomplish, why you thought they would be a good fit, and based on what you discovered about their needs, let them know what you’re willing to offer in return for their assistance. Most people are willing to help when they know exactly what’s required of them, and when it’s easy for them to do so. And they will be pleasantly surprised by your offer of assistance, since you’ll be among the few who understand that relationships are really about give and take.
With a personal board of directors, any professional can achieve and exceed their career goals.