Who is on your board of directors? Do you even have one? Those questions aren’t just for CEO’s of an organization or a business. They are for all you. Anyone. You may be a leader or not. Do you have a personal board of directors? If not, why not?
About five years ago, I first heard the term Personal of Board of Directors from my friend Lloyd Reeb. When Lloyd mentioned this new concept to me, he spoke of learning it from a favorite author of mine, Jim Collins. Jim suggested about 15 years ago that every good decision maker needs a personal board of directors who embody the core values and ideals the decision maker aspires to achieve. I’m all in on this one.
For about 18 years now, I’ve met with my personal board of directors every Monday for lunch. Unless I’m out of town, this board meeting is at the top of my priority list, no matter how packed my schedule. While we didn’t start meeting for this expressed purpose, over nearly two decades my board members have given me honest and candid feedback. They have asked tough questions. Without passing judgment, they have fostered personal reflection, self-assessment and growth in my life. I hear a lot of distant voices who think they’re called by God to tell me what I should or shouldn’t do, but I don’t give them any weight. They really don’t know me, and they don’t have a history with me. They may have great intentions, but they haven’t earned the right to speak into my life that way.
While my five board members are all in the same business that I am, they are not just an informal board of business advisors. They are guys who I deeply respect and would not want to let down. They are like tribal elders to me. I turn to them for guidance during life transitions, difficult choices, family crisis and ethical dilemmas. They help me to see my strengths and my weaknesses. They have invested in my life for nearly two decades. They’ve earned the right to speak truth into my life. If one of these board members tells me something, it’s almost the same as my wife telling me something. Honestly, my success is connected to their counsel, prayer and advice.
Do you have a personal board of directors? Do you have peers who will stimulate self-renewal and help you to preserve your core values? Do you have key confidants in your life who won’t just support the status quo but will ask you the tough questions? Do you have folks who will help you stay focused on your mission in life when there are competing options and opportunities?
Jim Collins suggests gathering up to seven personal board members. I have five and that works for me. Even two or three is better than none. Start somewhere. They don’t all need to meet with you together at the same time. Sometimes I call or meet with just one of the five regarding a specific challenge I’m facing. Sometimes I just hold an imaginary board meeting, envisioning what each board member might say about a given situation.
Although some personal board members will likely be close associates, they need not all be. You just need to have a deep respect for the person and their values, and that they have the insight, experience and thoughtfulness needed to see things you might be missing. They should be nonjudgmental and compassionate but unafraid to ask pointed and challenging questions.
If you don’t have a personal board or it needs to be expanded, start by making a list of the people who might help you to become the person you want to be. Pray for discernment. And then start asking. Be open and clear about what you are looking for in the relationship. Define how often you envision meeting or talking by phone so the commitment is clear. If someone declines, don’t give up. Ask someone else. Ask for a year’s commitment with the option for both of you to renew or decline.
So here is one for your “to do” list—take at least one step today so that next year this time you will have your own personal board of directors in place and effectively functioning.
QUESTION: What would you add to this topic? I’d love to hear it below.