Just a wild guess – if you’re on this page it just might be because you’re keen to find out more about how to get the best out of yourself and others. And yes, many of the posts on this blog deal with the latter – but what about you? Who can you really trust to give you feedback that’s honest and accurate? Who can you turn to if you need some advice?
This is where a ‘personal board’ comes in very handy. The concept was first suggested by Jim Collins, who recommended we recruit a trusty group of people that we can turn to for advice, ask to hold us to account, and – importantly, yet often overlooked – encourage us to challenge the status quo.
How do you go about recruiting your personal board? First of all I suggest you define clear goals – see this post if you need help. Secondly, I recommend reflecting on your own personal strengths and weaknesses, the better to be able to identify areas where your board can make the biggest impact. If you all share the same signature strengths, your progress could get a little lop-sided. Reflect on successes and setbacks: what personal qualities, skills and capabilities helped you with the former? What shortcomings were involved in the latter? Of course, there will be have been external factors involved in both; the aim here is to clarify what you brought to the table.
When you’ve done that, you can list the attributes you’ll need to have represented around your ‘board table’. For example, if you’re naturally confident, someone who’s not afraid to challenge could be very good for you. If you tend to duck when challenging opportunities present themselves, someone who’s going to encourage and cheer you on will really help.
It’s essential to do the groundwork with your goals, strengths/weaknesses and the qualities you need on your personal board; start with a list of names and you may enlist people with whom you might work really well – or you may waste each other’s time. Indeed, someone you admire in your own field of work may not bring as much to the table as someone from a radically different discipline. So think broadly and look towards and beyond the boundaries of your network.
As with embarking on a mentoring relationship, you will both need to agree ground rules upfront. What do you expect from each other? How often will you meet, when and where? Should you pay your personal board members? It’s important to discuss this. My accountant has been a pillar of my personal board for many years and he doesn’t dispense freebies. A respected author has been very generous with advice and challenges.
Finally, remember there’s an element of ‘what goes around comes around’ here; on whose personal board might you serve? This could be a great question to ask when approaching potential members of your personal board; how would they like to see you reciprocate? They may suggest you coach a job-seeker, help a student find their way through a tough assignment, give a talk at their former college or school. That way, you’ll be stepping up to their personal board.
Photo: vasabii777 Maxim Basinski/DepositPhotos