iStock_000009846590XSmallDo you have a group of people who are committed to your success, who push for your greater learning and reach, and who hold you accountable to live your purpose and values each day?

Few of us do – yet that kind of “board of directors” or “board of advisors” would help us immensely in this life.

I was a non-profit executive for 15 years. From my best boss, I learned how important a strong board is to the success of an executive’s organization – and, personally, to that executive’s success.

Board members are volunteers in many organizations. In large corporations, board members are sometimes paid (sometimes paid handsomely). Your personal “board of directors” members are willing volunteers, dedicated to help you grow.

In the best scenarios, a personal board serves as an accountability group and support team to help you be your best, honoring and serving others effectively, every minute.

In the worst scenarios, a personal board drives to meet its own selfish needs, eroding the growth and influence of the receiver. We certainly don’t want that to happen for you!

The first step is to formalize your personal purpose and values, which includes defining your values in measurable and behavioral terms. This statement sets your path, outlining who you want to be and how you want to act in your personal and work lives.

Desirable Traits of Personal Board Members

You need to be selective and intentional to build an effective personal board of directors. Consider 3-4 people in your network who consistently demonstrate these traits:

  • Honesty. These people don’t pull punches. They tell you the truth from their perspective, knowing that you need to consider their truth so that you can improve your effectiveness in influencing others.
  • Service. These people are inspired by helping others. They derive great joy from enabling others to be their best, and they invest time and energy in serving others regularly.
  • Success. These people have demonstrated success in building great teams, businesses, and even families. They understand how to get the right things done the right way in this life.

Once you identify potential personal board members, ask for a half hour of their time so you may explain how you believe they can help you by serving as your personal board members. Share your personal purpose, values, and behaviors to indicate that you’ve mapped out a desired path and want their help to keep you on track.

Consider these parameters for the board relationship. Let them know you need:

  • An hour a month of their time for one-on-one conversations, by phone or face to face if circumstances allow.
  • Them to hold you accountable for living your personal purpose and values in every interaction, every day.
  • Direct feedback on their perceptions of how you’re interacting with others.
  • Coaching on opportunities they see for your continued evolution as a servant leader.

Start with two personal board members. During your one-on-one conversations with each of them, share your hits and misses with serving others. Ask questions, and listen carefully. Speak less than they do – give them time and space to share their insights on your journey.

Learn from your board members, then refine your behavior so you can report progress over time.

You may find benefit in meeting with both board members at the same time. You’ll definitely find benefit in the insights your board will provide.

Contribute your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below. How have trusted advisors helped guide you through turmoil in your past? Who do you think would be committed and effective members of your “board of directors”?

What is it like to live in your organization’s culture? Share your experiences in my fast & free Performance-Values Assessment. Results and analysis are described on my blog’s research page.

This research can help you refine your organization’s corporate culture. Contact me to discuss conducting the Performance-Values Assessment in your company.

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S. Chris Edmonds

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of The Culture Engine and six other books.
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