What does your BoD look like? Are there any areas that need improvement? I'm not referencing your body - I'm sure you look great! - I mean your Board of Directors (BoD)!
While attending a Leadership course at GE's Crotonville campus last month, the concept of your personal "Board of Directors" was briefly mentioned. The thought stuck with me and I wanted to do some additional building around this topic.
Just as corporations have a BoD, you can cultivate your own personal BoD - you probably have one, consciously or unconsciously, formed already. Your BoD is the group of people you go to for advice, input, and/or support... a group of friends, advisers, and champions.
A well-rounded board might have trusted friends, colleagues, mentor(s), sponsor(s), a coach, consultant(s), junior members, and other counsel. The best board will be diverse and compliment your current skills and abilities.... Think about any advisory committee (like the White House Cabinet), the most successful groups are diverse and balanced.
Take a moment to think about your Board. Who is on it? Is it well rounded? What sort of influence or people are you missing?
Are you randomly asking people for help or advice? How can you get more refined?
Mentors vs. Sponsors vs. Coaches
Mentors, Sponsors, and Coaches can often be placed in the same category or thought of as interchangeable terms, but in reality, they are quite unique. Each role has a specific and different purpose. These relationships can range from strictly defined to unspoken collaborations. Having all three in your corner can fast-track success.
Mentor - This is a person you respect, someone you can discuss problems or opportunities with, seeking their input or guidance. You might want to emulate them or their journey. They may share stories with you and support you in a number of ways. Mentors are great pillars in your BoD.
Sponsor - A sponsor is your champion. Someone who is putting your name out there or promoting you in some way. They are the career boosters. Sylvia Ann Hewlett says a sponsor is "a senior-level champion who believes in your potential and is willing to advocate for your next raise or promotion." For more on sponsors, see Sylvia's website & book.
Coach - Coaches serve a third, different function than both a mentor or a sponsor. After creating an alliance and mission together, a coach uses curiosity, powerful questioning, and other tools to support you on your way to becoming the person you wish to be. A coach does not give advice, but will encourage you, hold you accountable, and keep you on track.
Additional Thoughts on Building your Board
Here are two articles I found that give some additional insight into the BoD concept well - links to the full articles are within the header, I've summarized their main points below.
- Create a diverse board
- Have virtual board members
- Have an odd number of board members
- Invest in your board
- Always be looking for new members
- Someone You Work With
- Someone You Aspire to Be
- A Mentor From a Previous Life
- A Person Who Isn't Senior to You
Who is on your board? Where do you have opportunities to grow? What has worked in the past? How can you get yourself to the next level?