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Who should have a personal board of directors?

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

You need a personal board of directors if you are an entrepreneur, a leader, or a professional who wants to grow and succeed in your career. A personal board of directors is a group of people who can offer you guidance, support, and advice on various aspects of your work and life. Talking with friends and family members about your work can be helpful, but depending on their background and experience, they might be unable to give you the perspective and guidance needed to achieve your goals. This is especially true if you come from a blue-collar background where the rules for getting ahead differ from most white-collar jobs. In addition to your current network, it is helpful to identify peers, mentors, coaches, experts, and role models to help you better understand how to succeed in a business environment where business acumen, strategic planning, and networking are necessary for advancing your career.

white box with the words building a personal board of directors

Like a company board of directors, a personal board of directors aims to provide the guidance and support you need to fulfill your career goals. The knowledge and skills you have developed to this point of your career have gotten you to where you are, but to move to the next level, you will need to develop new skills, habits, and behaviors. Your current mindset might be getting in the way of letting go of tasks others could do, investing in your business, and making time for self-care. Changing your mindset is crucial as you move into senior-level roles within an organization or work on scaling your business. Having a routine of discussing current business challenges with a trusted group of advisors can help you reduce the feeling of being alone. The group can help you to

  • Gain new knowledge and skills you may not learn from your formal education or training.

  • Get valuable feedback and constructive criticism from people who can challenge and push you out of your comfort zone.

  • Be persistent when you face difficulties or failures.

  • Identify partnership opportunities and expand your network with potential collaborators, clients, investors, or mentors.

  • Receive opportunities for career development or business expansion.

Who's your support?

  • Friends

  • Family

  • Employees

  • Peers

You can vote for more than one answer.

There are four steps that you should follow when forming your personal board of directors.

Clearly define your professional goals.

Depending on your goals, the people that should be on your board of directors will change. For example, if you want to become a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), having someone on your board who understands marketing at a high level would be beneficial. It would also be helpful to have someone that is a Senior Executive that understands what it takes to reach the highest levels of leadership within an organization.

Define the type of people you want on your board.

Diversity is paramount. Your intent should be to have a wide range of people from different backgrounds, races, genders, and specialties. Model your personal board after companies like Apple. Apple's board of directors includes:

  • Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

  • Arthur Levison, Founder, and CEO of Calico,

  • James A. Bell, CFO and Corporate President at Boeing Company,

  • Former Vice President Al Gore

  • Alex Gorsky, Former Executive Chair of Johnson and Johnson

  • Andrea Jung, President and CEO of Grameen America

  • Monica Lazano, Former President and CEO of the College Futures Foundation

  • Ronald Sugar, Former Chair and CEO of Northrop Grumman

  • Susan L. Wagner. Co-founder and Director BlackRock

By having people from different industries, genders, and backgrounds, Apple benefits from the diverse knowledge, skills, and perspectives of the people on its board. You might not be able to attract such big names. Still, you can intentionally seek and build meaningful relationships with diverse groups of people that can advise you on growing your career or business.

Define how you will engage with your board.

Determining the frequency and manner of touching base can help you ensure that you are leveraging your board optimally. One of the benefits of having a board is that you are not dependent on one person for everything. By having multiple people whom you consult, you reduce the burden on any one person and limit the chances of burning out a relationship. Initially, meeting with board members one on one may make sense, but over time it can benefit you to introduce your board members to each other and participate in group discussions.

Show gratitude.

The sacrist resource that we have is time. When people take time out of their schedule to support you, show them some love. Communicating gratitude can manifest itself in many ways. One of the best ways is to provide people with updates on the progress that you have made based on their feedback. When you earn a win because of guidance or help from a board member, let them know. They will likely see your wins as their wins. They invest time in you because they believe in your potential and want to see you succeed. Pay them back by letting them know about their positive impact on your career or business.

4 steps to building personal board of directors

Humans are a tribal species. We thrive in communities. As you look to progress your career or business, seek out a tribe that can help you grow into the person your potential. We are the summation of our experiences. The more time you can dedicate to learning from people that know things you do not know, the better prepared you will be for the new challenges. You do not have to figure things out alone. Expand your network, seek out mentors, and hire professionals that can help you achieve your goal.


Thank you for reading this blog

Dorian Cunion is an Executive Business Coach with Your Path Coaching and Consulting. He is a former retail executive with over 20 years of experience in the retail industry. He is a Co-Active coach who focuses on helping professionals and small business owners overcome insecurities, knowledge gaps, and lack of direction. He does this by helping clients tap into their values, recognize their strengths, and develop actionable strategies for growth.

Picture of Dorian Cunion Executive Coach

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