Who is on your personal board of directors?

Corporations have them.  Public utilities answer to them.  Executives are asked to participate on them.  A Board of Directors.  The body of oversight that typically governs the organization by establishing broad policies and objectives, reviewing the performance of the chief executive, and accounting to the stakeholders for the organization’s performance.

This group of individuals guiding an organization has a role that could also benefit our own leadership.  Have you ever thought about it?  Do you have a personal board of directors?

Granted, my personal board might not direct my finances, nor would they report the quality of my performance to colleagues.  But what about the level of accountability to my decision making and how I behave as a leader?  Hmm…couldn’t we all benefit from that oversight?

At the organizational level, board members have specific requirements, so it seems appropriate to also extend this consideration to our own Board members.  Here are a few considerations to keep in mind:

1.  Board members are not your easy-going friends
A level of personal accountability is impossible if we surround ourselves with friends or colleagues who enable our behavior.  They (like ourselves) will justify our actions and thinking to the point they are simply our mirror.  Your personal Board must be able to ask you the tough questions that dig deeper at motive, consequences and the bigger implication of our actions.

2.  Must accept feedback
It’s one thing to ask “how am I doing?”  It’s another to actually listen to what is being said.  For most, the temptation to “explain away” our behavior trumps any opportunity for improvement.  “Yes but” is phrase we should try to eliminate from our vocabulary when it comes to feedback.    Easier said than done.

3.  Must be more honest with them than you are yourself
Human nature often forces us to either be our own worst critic or have a blind spot self image.  And because of that tendency, it’s important to recognize the independent nature of a personal Board.  They should ask the questions we don’t like to ask.  And more importantly, they push us until we answer truthfully. 

This may sound like an exercise of angst but the presence of specific people in our lives – to make us better – bring some worthwhile benefits:

1.  Sharpens you
Iron sharpens iron.  And without others in our lives who sharpen (challenge us, grow us, encourage us), we lose our edge.  And before long, we are like everyone else who simply get by.

2.  Holds you to a higher standard than you hold yourself
These folks want me to succeed.  They are my cheerleader and conscience.  And more importantly, they protect us from ourselves.

3.  A sounding board
In a culture where anything is possible, isn’t it beneficial to have a few trustworthy folks you interact with periodically who can see a different perspective on our life than we do?  A personal “GPS” can keep us on course.

This is a powerful concept.   The reality is, we each probably have those two to three folks we call our confidants.  Perhaps the next step is to formalize those relationships a bit. 

What an honor to be asked to serve on this Board for someone.  And what a benefit we gain from the experience of having our own.

 So, when is your first Board meeting?

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