Whether you like it or not, we are faced with a multitude of decisions every day. Some are small, but some are monumental. And while we all like to think we make the best decisions, it's imperative that we seek wise and experience council. A personal board of directors is a group of people you regularly consult for advice or feedback on these major business and life decisions.
Importance of a Personal Board of Directors
One mentor is great, but why not have wisdom of the multitudes by employing a personal board of directors! This theory matches the phrase you've all heard, 'two are better than one.' Board meetings and regular group meet-ups are not required for your personal board of directors, but consistent communication, time for feedback, and face time are all beneficial to ensure you're making the most of your board. Remember that receiving advice and feedback doesn't mean it has to be taken, but it can be a sounding board and guidance in times of major decisions. When we are faced with obstacles and challenges, we often get tunnel vision, and a board can help us to look outside, around, and explore the tunnel before going through it (or not).
Personal Board of Directors Candidates
Typically, a personal board of directors is made up of individuals that have more experience or knowledge in an area than you do. If your board is made up of professionals on the same job level as you and in the same phase of life as you, you might have just surrounded yourself with cheerleaders or buddies that you can vent to. That won't help you actually achieve the goal of a personal board of directors which is to give guidance and feedback that stems from their experience and expertise. There might be times that you don't want to hear what they have to say. Will you walk in their counsel or will you go your own way? At one point, you decided to make them a part of your board of directors, so be prepared to get feedback and advice that might not be what or how you wanted to hear it.
Selecting Your Personal Board of Directors
So, how do you go about identifying and selecting your board? The people on your personal board of directors should know more about something than you do, have different points of view than you, and be better than you at something. The varying and diverse feedback you invite from them is what will help you to grow and develop in your career and in life.
Here are a few simple steps to select your personal board of directors:
- Think of contact and connections you have that have expertise, knowledge, and wisdom in areas you need.
- Consider which of those contacts you have a natural relationship with and feel comfortable communicating with.
- List your ideal board candidates and consider why you value their feedback and advice and how they can contribute to your business and life decisions.
- Contact the people and let them know that you admire that advice and that you'd like to consider them as a member of your personal board of directors.
- Determine the roles you want them to play. This isn't literally specific titled roles on your board, but more if you want them to hold you accountable or not. Discuss that with them up front. Set in your mind how you will ask for advice, feedback, etc., and what that relationship and expectation will look like.
Remember that this isn't a paid gig, so when receiving advice or inviting feedback, consider how you can contribute to their business and life. It's not always about reciprocation, but it's courteous to be mindful. What can you do for them? Connect them with a business contact? Share feedback from your area of expertise? There are many ways you can return the favor.
Also, you might want to avoid family members (although there could be times that a family member would be a great member of a personal board), because you don't want bias opinions when you are making significant life and business decisions.
Some people you should have on your personal board of directors include someone:
- In another generation
- Who is or has been in your situation
- That can connect you to others
- From your industry
- That is in a place where you desire to grow to (leadership, job level, etc.)
- Who is one of your biggest cheerleaders
- With expertise in an area you might lack experience or knowledge
Now, it's time to build your board! Assemble your team of armed and knowledgable contacts that will help you with guidance and growth in life and in business.