Assembling Your Personal Board of Advisors

Who’s in the Boardroom of Your Life?

Imagine for a moment that your life is a business and you are the CEO. Perhaps each quarter, or even each month, you would gather in a meeting room with a group of trusted advisors – a board of directors. With their input and guidance, you would develop strategies for the growth and success of your joint venture. You wouldn’t make those critical decisions on your own. That’s why having a Personal Board of Advisors is essential.

Did you know that many people looking to implement changes in their lives and advance their careers take the time to build a Personal Board of Advisors (PBoA)?  And I highly recommend that all of my clients do too.

So what exactly is a PBoA? Like those folks in the boardroom, your PBoA is a sounding board as you travel the highway of life. If built right, it will include a diverse group of people with different backgrounds and skillsets. These board members should be people whose judgment you trust and who are available to discuss careers, relationships, personal development, and anything else that is important to you.

“A personal board of advisors is a group with one mission: to help you achieve your goals and live the best possible version of yourself.” – Elise Awwad

Assembling Your Personal Board of Advisors

Unlike a corporate board of directors, this isn’t a formal business relationship. You won’t be calling board meetings and keeping minutes (unless you’re really organized!) Instead, you’ll have wise counsel you can call on as-needed for lunch, coffee, or Zoom to catch up on the things that matter and the advice you need.

A PBoA is essential for anyone looking to take steps forward in their life. Ideally, your board members will challenge you to think differently, make introductions, keep you grounded, encourage your growth, and celebrate your achievements. A PBoA can be a real game-changer in accelerating your personal and professional development.

Fun fact: your PBoA members don’t even need to know they’re on the board. Building a PBoA is an exercise in relationship building that is intentional and purpose-driven. Traditionally, up-and-comers have sought out mentors to guide them along their career ladder – and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, you absolutely should have a mentor from within your company or industry on the board. But that’s just one of several roles to fill. More on that in a moment!

There’s no fixed size for your PBoA, but I wouldn’t go overboard. Too many, and it becomes difficult to maintain that many relationships with authenticity. Too few, and you lose the diversity of thought that leads to a 360-degree view of your most challenging dilemmas.

6 Key Roles on a Personal Board of Advisors

In my experience, the following six roles are essential to a well-rounded board that will act as the ultimate driver of advancement opportunities:

  1. Sponsor – A senior-level executive with the ability to hire you and the power to endorse you. Sponsors are invested in your success and act on your behalf.
  2. Hero – A role model that inspires you. Heroes set the standard, provide a pattern to follow, and can be living or deceased.
  3. Coach – A guide on your unique success path. Coaches accelerate personal growth, so you get from where you are to where you want to be faster.
  4. Colleague – Peers that offer general advice and support. Colleagues lend their expertise and connect you to others as needed.
  5. Champion – A close colleague that encourages, supports, and cheers your success. Champions are your most ardent defenders.
  6. Mentor – Advisors who help you navigate on a specific path of development. Mentors provide tips and help you strategize.

In all probability, you already have at least one or two of these people in your orbit. When you consider who else might be a good fit, look for people whose values align with your own. Shared values are one of the most reliable indicators of a relationship’s potential strength. Again, look for diversity as well.

“A Personal Board of Advisors is like a set of tribal elders that you turn to for guidance at times of ethical dilemma, life transitions, and difficult choices, people who embody the core values and standards you aspire to live up to.” – Jim Collins

Be on the Lookout

Pay attention as you engage in networking activities, and keep an eye out for individuals who might be a good fit for one of the open seats on the board. Then reach out to schedule an informal get-together and see if there’s a genuine connection that can be developed. Remember that relationships take time and require mutual trust. They also require a give-and-take, so be sure to make yourself available to return the favor to your board members when they need resources or support.

You may have noticed that one of those roles is that of a coach. If you’re currently looking to fill that role, let’s talk! One area I specialize in is connections, helping my clients connect with and develop relationships with personal board members. I’d be happy to help you too.

As the CEO of your own life, you have so many decisions to make on a daily basis. The significant ones can have ripple effects for years, so it’s important to make those choices wisely. The best advice you’ll ever get is from your PBoA – people you trust and who always have your best interests at heart. Start building your board today and watch how fast success comes your way!

Lisa L. Baker - Certified Personal, Career, Success and Life Coach

Lisa L. Baker is a professional life coach, career strategist, and keynote speaker. Lisa is the founder of Ascentim – a Maryland-based coaching practice that utilizes a unique G.R.O.W. process to help clients gain clarity, realize new possibilities, overcome obstacles, and win at life. Lisa shows high-performing professionals how to Level Up and Live the Life of Their Dreams.

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