Board of Directors are typically known for driving the direction and influencing key decisions for large companies. But what if you were responsible for making decisions for brands like an Amazon, Nike or Starbucks – could you do it alone without any help or guidance?

Probably not and that’s okay as most people would be in the same boat.

What if I told you that you, (yes you) need a board of directors for yourself and your own company.

Consider reading this article “as if” you yourself are a Fortune 500 company and the importance of creating your own board could be the difference between where you are and where you want to be professionally.

I wrote about the importance of a Mastermind Group last year where I discussed joining like-minded individuals in an effort to elevate your game. Today’s article is about creating a Board of Directors to elevate your career.

What Is A Board Of Directors

Nowadays people sit on so many boards you would wonder if they play professional musical chairs. Joking aside, joining a board can indeed be an honor and provide you with a platform to influence great change. That is of course if you are sitting on the right board, at the right table and surrounded by the right people. So what is a Board of Directors and why should I care?

Board of Directors is a group of individuals that are elected as, or elected to act as, representatives of the stockholders to establish corporate management related policies and to make decisions on major company issues. Every public company must have a board of directors. Some private and nonprofit companies have a board of directors as well.

I know, you are reading this saying, I am not a company and I don’t have stockholders so how does any of this apply to me? Remember what I said in the beginning:

Consider reading this article “as if” you yourself are a Fortune 500 company and the importance of creating your own board could be the difference between where you are and where you want to be professionally.

“Your personal board of directors refers to a group of people who inspiremotivate, and challenge you to think beyond what’s possible”

I invite you to look at this board as a potential resource and support structure that could enable you to move forward in your life in ways you didn’t think possible. The best part about a board is that you get to create it entirely to fit your needs, purpose and mission leaving you with something powerful to leverage.

Why They Can Be Powerful

When used effectively, a board can provide you the same benefits it does for a large company and in ways that your friends, family members and even your mastermind group may not be able to. Here are three ways you can utilize the benefits a board deploys for large(r) companies:

  • Fiduciary responsibility. As noted above, corporate board members have a fiduciary responsibility to care for the finances and legal requirements of the corporation. They must act in good faith and with a reasonable degree of care, and they must not have any conflicts of interest. For You: This means having an unbiased and objective sounding board for where and how you spend your money.
  • Mission and Vision. Board members are responsible for setting the mission of the company and assuring that all actions are related to and adhere to that mission. For You:This means leveraging the brain trust you have comprised to assist in the creation of what you and/or your company stand for. This could also be around career aspirations and decisions.
  • Oversight. Corporate boards of directors do not participate in day-to-day decision-making; instead, they set overall policy, based on the corporate mission and vision, and they exercise an oversight function, reviewing the actions of corporate officers and executives. For You: This means knowing and using your board to ensure your actions are aligned with your purpose, mission and most importantly your goals.

How To Create Your Own Board

There are quite a few theories on how to best go about creating your board but luckily for you, I did the research and found what I believe to be the easiest, most practical and most applicable. However, before you go assembling your personal dream team, consider asking(and answering) the following questions:

  • Who inspires you? The underlying proposition of a personal board of directors is to gain insight and wisdom from people you have always looked up to or aspired to be. Expand your inner circle to include those who can challenge your thinking and escalate you to unreached heights of success.
  • Is there diversity? Include those people who have inspired you but who are not like you. The more people there are with different approaches, the more room there is to learn.
  • Who can you trust? Every person on your board will not be a long time friend or colleague so consider inviting at least one member who knows you well—a person who is aware of your temperament, thinking style and ambitions in life would be in a better position to advise you and provide feedback.

Here’s an excellent and easy to follow article on how to begin building your board:

  • The Who: Contact four to six people who you feel you could learn from and who have wisdom in creating new enterprises. Approach your prospective members and arrange to start meeting at least every month. The board should not include family members for fear of bias. It should be a diverse group that can pose the big questions that need to be asked. IMPORTANT: Consider having one or two free agents along with a clarifier who asks clear questions, a connector who leads you to other people, a challenger who helps you act boldly, and a wise elder or sage. You want to draw upon the wisdom of people with diverse perspectives who think differently than you do.
  • The When: Your board can meet quarterly, monthly, or weekly with your precise questions setting the agenda for the meeting. You can meet individually or collectively. And thanks to technology, you can include virtual members by using the telephone, e-mail, and live chats — although you’ll want to meet face-to-face occasionally.
  • The What: Show board members your business plan if you have one. Discuss the challenges you are facing and ask for input. Ask your board to suggest books, people, resources, clients, and other free agents for advice.
  • The How: The board is all about “win-win” benefit so you must be willing to give as much as you receive. Consider ways to add value to their lives and their work. Board members will benefit from your involvement and investment as well.

The last point of consideration comes from a recent Harvard Business Review article in which it stated that following:

“The key to a successful Board of Directors isn’t structural, it’s social”

  • The most involved, diligent, value-adding boards may or may not follow every recommendation in the good-governance handbook. What distinguishes exemplary boards is that they are robust, effective social systems. This means a virtuous cycle of respect, trust, and candor is present amongst the group and as a result they adopt a spirited give-and-take mindset where they learn to adjust their own interpretations in response to intelligent questions resulting in the best output and outcome you could want from your board.

Final thoughts: Creating a board may not be for you which is completely okay. In fact, the key to success isn’t about having a board but having something and/or someone who will support you in ways that you didn’t know or think were possible. It’s about inspiring and igniting the passion, purpose and leader within you, so you can get after what’s most important to you and your life.

The floor is yours: What support structure do you recommend for success?

Please leave your comment below as your insights are greatly appreciated and a learning opportunity for everyone reading this article.

With leadership,

Joshua /

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