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Helping Build a Personal Board of Directors

Helping Build a Personal Board of Directors
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So, we’ve introduced the ACS model, and that ACS model is a framework that organizing our conversation about how to coach and develop yourself, but also how to coach and develop your team. We’ve talked about the assessment process and some critical success factors for being able to identify what you want to assess, why, and how to use those assessments. We’ve talked about the challenge aspect, what are the features of challenging developmental experiences, and then how to make sure that your team members are approaching and going through those challenging experiences, in ways that will actually lead and foster learning and growth. Now I want to transition to the support aspect of the ACS model.
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The first aspect of support that I want to talk about is building your personal board of directors. Again, you can think about this for developing yourself but then also, how you can help coach and develop your team members, by helping them develop their personal board of directors. So what do I mean by your personal board of directors? As we know, companies, since the founding of companies, have had boards of directors to advise them on everything from management to business strategy to operations. The entire running of the organization. The board of directors is there to serve in an advisory capacity. The same is true with your personal board of directors or board of advisors.
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I want you to think for a moment.
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Who in your life would you put on your board of directors? And why would you put them on the board? Do they provide mentorship or coaching? Do they provide support? I want you to imagine the people that you would put on your own personal board of directors.
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Now I want you to imagine, whose board are you on? When you think about your team members, if they were here and I asked them the same question, who’s on their personal board of directors, would you be a person they mentioned? And what role would you play on that board of directors?
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This is a very important point for you to really think about carefully, because if you are not providing your team members with the support that they need to learn from their roles, responsibilities, their experiences working in your team.
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Then you are not fulfilling one of your most important roles and responsibilities as a leader, and this is where you can really help your team. To grow and develop and ultimately achieve it’s potential. By making sure that each and every single one of your individual team members has thought about and fully developed and cultivated their own personal board of directors.
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Why is it so important? Let me share with you some, for me, one of the most enlightening studies that I’ve seen and found on the impact of your board of director, your network on career success. So, for example, if we just look at your network and who is in that network. Think about that as your Board of Directors, your Board of Advisors, all the people that you have connections with. The degree to which that network consists of people who are in functions other than the one that you’re in. So if you work in finance, there are people who are in marketing, sales, strategy, operations in your network. Or different industries for example.
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But contacts that represent diversity, in different ways of thinking about diversity in business functions, industries and so on. As well as the degree to which you have contacts at a higher level. So, making sure that not everybody in your board of directors is a peer or a subordinate or somebody outside of your domain of work. But having contacts that represent diverse functions, diverse industries and also at a higher level, where they have the experience and the wisdom to help coach and guide you. The degree to which your network consists of people that represent other functions and higher levels.
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We find that you have greater access to information, which means greater access to opportunities, greater to access to resources, whether they be financial resources or expertise or different forms of value, resources that you can leverage to get your job done at a really high level.
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And thirdly, the degree to which you have access to career sponsorship. So, not just mentorship. Mentorship here would fall under accessed information. I’d been through this experience, here’s what worked, here’s what didn’t work, that’s access to information. But career sponsorship is really the degree to which people advocate for you, sponsor you, and ultimately help you get new and better or different opportunities in your career. Your network determines the degree to which you have access to those benefits, and in particular, the degree to which your board of director network consists of people from other functions and people at higher levels with greater experience and greater networks than your own.
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Now, surprisingly those benefits lead to a lot of career outcomes that are important to most people. Salary, promotions and ultimately our satisfaction with our career. So again, the power of your board of director network on career success, by enabling you to grow and develop, in ways that you would not be able to do without that board of director. So again, I come back to the question that I asked initially, who’s on your board and who’s board are you on? I developed a tool in the book that we wrote on Experience-Driven Leader Development. One of my colleagues, Paul Yost, and some others, worked on a tool where we’re able to capture your personal board of directors.
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And I share this tool with you, as a way for you to organize who’s on your board. But also a tool that you can share with your team members to coach them in ways that will help develop their boards of directors. And what Paul and others have found in our research, is there are different roles that different board members play. So, we’ve listed four of those roles here. Who’s going to sponsor you? Who are the people that will be your champions and ultimately advocate for you when there are opportunities that become available? Who’s going to mentor you? The people you will go to for feedback, advice and coaching?
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Who are the people that are going to challenge you to think in new and different ways? Sometimes those are the same people as your sponsors. Sometimes those are the same people as your mentors. It’s okay if people’s names show up in multiple places on this framework. But you have to be able to identify who’s going to challenge you to think in new and different ways. And then finally, when you have a tough day, when you’re going through one of these really stretched challenging experience. There are going to be ups, there are gonna be highs, and there are gonna be downs, there are gonna be lows. And you’re gonna need people who will provide that emotional support, that social support.
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When you need someone to play that sounding board, and just simply provide that support when you’re experiencing one of those lows, who are those people? So I give you this framework as a tool that you can use not only for yourself, but also your team members, as a way to identify who’s on your board of directors, who’s on your team members’ boards of directors. And ultimately, I encourage you to revisit the question I asked at the outset, which is, whose board are you on?
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