Forget Mentoring: Build a Board of Directors

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You are the CEO of You – in charge of your life and your priorities. Like all CEOs, you want to
build a board of directors to give you valuable insights and advice to help you achieve your
goals. A strong board allows you to diversify and expand your network and will surround you
with a team committed to your success.

Who Should Be on My Board?
You want to be intentional about who sits on your board of directors. This is different than
friends or confidants. They play an important role in supporting you as fans. Your board of
directors should be carefully selected based on the skillsets they have and their ability to help
you achieve your goals. Be intentional about having diversity in your board- you want people
with different experiences, backgrounds, and opinions to help guide you. Your board can and
should have people at multiple levels of the organization. Someone with the skills you need
may less senior than you, a peer, or a leader. I recommend filling most of the seats internally-
that allows you to have internal advocates to speak up for you when you are not in the room.
But there is also value in having at least one seat held by someone with complete objectivity
outside of your organization who will bring a different perspective forward.

What are the Seats I Need on My Board?
The LinkedIn Learning training What a secret circle of mentors can do for you (linkedin.com) recommends the following roles. I think they are best positioned not as mentors but as key seats on your board of directors:

  • Compass Holder: Someone who helps you set your direction. Someone you can learn from the path they have paved.
  • Yoda: Someone who can help you with your blind spots. Someone with skills and strengths that compliment yours.
  • Co Pilot: Someone you can learn with collaboratively. A thought partner to bounce ideas off.
  • Connector: Someone who is well connected and can help you expand your network.
  • Optimizer: Someone to help you with your work life balance.  Someone that can help you with prioritizing.
  • Challenger: Someone who will ask you hard questions and push you to be better.

How Do I Create My Board? 

Start with a list of names. Who are the first people that come to mind when you read the list of key seats for your board? What is it you want them to help you with? The clearer you are the more helpful they can be. For example, if you are looking for someone to help you with work life balance, define what that mean to you. What will success look like? What have you tried and what have you learned? 

Reach out to the individual and ask if you can meet with them. Tell them you’ve noticed their strength in work life balance and ask if they would be willing to help you with your goal. There is no rule about how frequently you should meet. What’s more important is agreeing to a schedule of check ins to drive your accountability and connection. 

You should also talk about the best way to communicate with each other between meetings Are texts ok? Do they prefer emails sent to them at work or at home? Do they like calls during their drive time or hate it? Again, no rules here- just aligning on what works for each of you.

Remember, you are the CEO of You. No one is more invested in your success than you. Finding a board of directors willing to share their superpowers will help you power your goals and your success.