As a successful leader, you may think you have all the mentors you need.  While I encourage my clients to take advantage of internal advisors, I also recommend putting together a personal board of directors from outside your current organization.  Like external coaches, outside directors have no agenda but yours.

What is the value?

Imagine this scenario: you have a tough decision to make about the strategic direction of your business.  You have done the analysis and sought input from trusted internal colleagues, but you could really use a safe sounding board.  You call your personal board members and give them a brief overview of the issues and your conclusions.  Their suggestions give you valuable perspective because you know they are objective.

Who can help?

In order to get the most balanced viewpoint, I recommend that you consider at least two successful professionals with similar and two with different expertise and experience than your own. You want people who will give you constructive feedback and who are willing to invest time in understanding your business issues.  Objectivity is critical, so close friends may not be the best choice.

How should you ask?

Explain what you want from your directors, how often you expect to meet or talk and how long you want them to serve on your personal board. Although personal board members aren’t typically paid, consider what you can do for them. Recommending them to potential customers or passing on business leads is always appreciated.

How Often Should We Meet?

If possible, get all your directors together in person or by conference call at least once a year to review your business plan and take advantage of their collective wisdom.  I suggest talking with individual board members at least quarterly and more often as needed.  Send any relevant information in advance and be prepared with a succinct summary of the issues and your questions.

Keep Them Informed

Let your directors know what you decide to do and the results you achieved.  Be sure to thank them for their input.

I invite you to identify potential candidates for your personal board of directors and talk with them about how they can be a part of your career success.