By Eboni Elise
If you are serious about becoming successful, you simply cannot do it alone. No matter what industry you’re in, hard work is not the only thing that helps you achieve your goals. One of the important factors to consider is your relationships, particularly those you surround yourself with and those who are willing to support you.
Think about a successful leader you know. I can pretty much guarantee that he or she had people in their corner not only to support them but to guide them, like a personal board of directors. Companies have a board of directors, a diverse team of professionals and experts who are elected to make sure the company is going in the right direction and that everything is in order. A board is crucial in developing and maintaining success within a company. Oprah had one - including her mentor Maya Angelou, John Greene, Gail, Stedman, and others we may not know. They each played a part in helping her get where she is today. How do you think Beyonce’ became one of the greatest entertainers of our time? (Yes, she absolutely is and this message has been approved by the members of the Beyhive). She has a team that helps her breaks boundaries and slay…all day. So, why not have one for yourself?
I am currently working on building a personal board of directors and thinking about what seats I need at the table. Those who are on my board are all people who I highly respect, who are experts in their field and whom I trust. The type of people you can select to fill a seat at your table are:
1. The Motivating Mentor - Mentors are awesome for offering advice pertaining to your long-term career goals and motivating you along your journey. There are two women who I consider to be my mentors. They both hold leadership positions, possess a wealth of knowledge and always willing to share their experiences. As women and mothers, they can also relate to issues I may encounter with work life balance. Both mentors have taught me the importance of maximizing my strengths, learning to sell myself, and thinking about the next step in my career. When appropriate, I can also gripe about issues that I wouldn’t feel comfortable disclosing with someone at my job. They often give me an objective perspective on things and provide guidance on how to handle obstacles. One may think this relationship is only beneficial for the mentee but it actually can be a positive learning experience for the mentor as well!
2. The Cultivating Coach – The most meaningful feedback I’ve received has been from my coach who works at the same org. Having someone internal is helpful because they know the inner workings of the company, have a clear understanding of your role, and see you in action on a regular basis. This person has been key in my growth and personal development. My coach helps me identify what I do well, where I can improve and works with me to develop a plan of action for short-term goals. When an opportunity at work comes up, this person can speak to your accomplishments. Or, they can position you to be more visible to upper management by including you on a major project or inviting you to leadership meetings that you wouldn’t normally be invited to attend.
3. The Mover & Shaker - This person has an extensive network and a reputation for making things happen. Be crystal clear about what your goals are and make sure that the mover and shaker knows it. He or she usually loves to serve as the connector and can introduce you to key people that you can collaborate on a business opportunity or help you get your foot in the door for a job interview you want to nail.
4. The Boomquisha – Everyone needs a Boomquisha on their personal board. This is the name I give to my trusted friend who always holds me accountable and gives me a push when I’m being a punk about something. She constantly keeps me on my toes and gives it to me straight, no chaser. Exactly what I need every now and again.
You can add other roles in your boardroom such as a financial advisor, health or relationship counselor – whatever guidance you need for the goals you’ve set for yourself. Your personal board of directors doesn’t meet together as a regular board would but it is your responsibility to make sure that you check in with each one and keep them updated on your progress. Having different perspectives and expert advice from people who want to see you succeed makes a world of difference. I wish I would’ve done this sooner! It sets you apart from the rest and gets you one step closer to being the success you want to be!