Have you ever thought about applying the lessons of the corporate world to your own personal career development? It is not as far-fetched of an idea as it may sound. As chairman of your own personal board of directors, you can reap the benefits of shared knowledge by creating a group vested in a set of mutual goals. All it takes is a bit of knowledge about what it takes to make a great board, and the ability to draw on your existing connections and relationships.
Let’s get started.
A Boards of Directors – From Corporate Roots to Personal Gains
Boards of directors are the bastions of the corporate world. They are elected to represent the shareholders of all publicly traded companies, and are in charge of keeping everything profitable. Asset protection, validation of financial results, and devising the best practices and strategies to recruit and maintain staff are just some of the many tasks a corporate board of directors may delve into on a daily basis.
Over the years, boards of directors have transformed from being large components with superficial roles, to becoming more specialized and condensed. Structural changes soon followed: Meetings became longer and more focused, and expectations changed, with boards becoming expert decision-making forces. No longer were boards comprised of gifted amateurs: they required people who could take on the hard-hitting work, and who could commit to the extended amounts of time necessary in studying their craft, and partaking in committee and board meetings. The end result is efficient, thrives on logic, and above all, it’s productive.
If done correctly, the board of directors formula can be replicated across many industries and contexts. It’s not just those at the top who can benefit from these strategies, and that’s where the concept of a “personal board of directors” comes in.
The idea involves making the most of your connections and mentors: the people who can help you fine-tune your ideas and guide you through the devising of strategies and solutions. Discussing, conferring, and planning as a team, just as a board of directors may do.
Who makes up a personal board of directors?
Basically, anyone who you think is a great role model. This could be:
- A work colleague whom you trust and admire: these are the people who are most likely to be the most open and honest about your strengths and weaknesses.
- A mentor from the past: someone with whom you have kept in contact and has seen your career grow and develop over the years. Remember, cultivating old ties can be just as important as establishing new ones.
- A present mentor: someone whom you aspire to be. This can be a CEO or someone in a successful position whose experience you can draw on and learn from.
- Someone who isn’t in a senior position, but has been a driving influence in your life: Think of a friend, your family, and everyone else around you. Again, making the most out of all existing connections, old as well as new, is key.
Benefits of a personal Board of Directors
A lot of the benefits of a personal board of directors are concerned with your personal and professional development. Reaching out to people who have extensive professional and life experience and are willing to impart their knowledge on you will enable you to increase your chances of success. A lot of people fall into the trap of thinking that asking for help is a sign of weakness, when reaching out to their networks and mentors would make life so much easier. Think of this support as a way to work smarter, not harder.
Having a personal board of directors can also be a boon when you need extra help with areas you are not particularly good at, or lack the knowledge in. These individuals can share with you not only their skills and experience, but you can benefit from the fact that these can complement your own.
By getting guidance from a personal board of directors, you become exposed to different perspectives and approaches. It allows you to think outside your own box and opens you up to new ideas. You are essentially drawing from other people’s life experiences, other people’s paths and journeys, and learning new things you might not consider.
How to make the most out of your connections
Now that you know all about the establishment of your personal board of directors, here are the next steps to take.
First and foremost, explain to your chosen “board members” what you would like from them. Advice, expertise, and anything you want them to share. Detail to them the concept of creating a personal board of directors and your reasoning for doing so.
To make the most out of your relationships you need to establish an environment which allows for transparency, openness, problem-solving, and creativity. These are the key components for all relationships between corporate boards of directors and company management teams.
Finally, some main points to consider when consulting and conferring with your personal board of directors:
- Decide on your goals and objectives and clearly communicate these with your board
- Ask your advisers for suggestions, and be open to listen
- Follow up on your progress with board members
- Never forget to acknowledge and thank your board members for their input
Now go at it, Chairman.