Building Your “Personal Board”

If you don’t already serve on a board, you probably will, whether civic or professional or philanthropic. But, in this case, I’m referring to the board of advisers each of us as leaders should establish. These are people in our lives who mentor, inspire, empower and support us.

There are different “types” of board members. Some might be personal acquaintances. Others professional. Some I sit down with in person. Others by phone or virtually. Some I connect with on a daily basis. Others just a few times each year.

The value of a board of advisors is access to input and insight.

If you’re having a tough time assembling your board, think of the individuals who come to mind when you ask these questions:

  • Who has encouraged my professional development and made me a better leader?
  • Who has contributed to my success by guiding and/or advising me?
  • Who has challenged me and holds me to my goals?
  • Who sees my potential?

 Here’s a peek at a few of the individuals who make up my personal board of advisors. Each boasts distinct personalities and plays different roles in my life, but no matter the role or dynamic, I could not be the professional or person I am today without them.

 “The Pragmatist” – WES also happens to be my husband. Opposites attract, right? When I want to “fly away,” he keeps me grounded. When I make an assumption, he challenges it with realistic considerations. When I want to jump, he is more deliberate and weighs the risks.

 “The Perspective” – NATALIE is my peer. Though she lives out-of-state, we serve in similar roles. As such, she “gets me” and has invaluable insight into the challenges and circumstances that I face professionally. She understands where I’ve been and where I’m going, and inspires me to push harder.

 “The Cheerleader” – MIKE – you’ve got to love him. No matter what, he always encourages me, believes in me and picks me up by the scruff when I feel broken or fall down.

 “The Professional” – KATHRYN is an executive several decades more seasoned career-wise. She is professional development in a person. She has the background (she’s “been there” after all) and is very honest and forthcoming in bringing her experiences to the table to not only identify any issues or mis-steps, but to help reinforce and validate my goals.

 “The Wise One” – DEAN, for all you Star Wars buffs out there, is my Yoda. By that, this physician-client is a calm, level-headed voice of reason even amid the most challenging and chaotic of circumstances. He is rational and thorough, patient and composed. His perspective is priceless.

 “The Driver” – ERIC drives me to be better in my work. You should never overlook adding a dose of competition to your board of directors, as these individuals hold you accountable to your goals and constantly set the bar higher. If ever I am inclined to coast, Eric compels me to push harder.

 “The Character-Builder” – BOB is my first mentor. He influenced me in the early stages of my career and, more than a decade later, continues to be my compass. Bob helped to demonstrate and, in turn, shaped in me those “intangibles” a leader simply can’t put a price on—like integrity and character. His example has had a deep and lasting impact.

These individuals have helped me grow and develop as a person and as a leader. You, too, need a variety of perspectives to both champion and groom you.

Who are your board members?

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