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January 31, 2011

Bringing on a Board of Directors

As I have suggested and argued for many years most high performers don't just possess a set of references, they assemble a board of directors. Lynette Lewis in her book Climbing the Ladder in Stilettos reminds us of how important it remains for women to do this throughout their career. She reminds us all that a personal board should help you get to the next level if you can picture that next level, those next dreams you see. 

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Many of these concepts can be started during any career upheaval. It would be nice if these ideas were all supported by your current company. But most of the time they are not. If they are great. If not then it is up to you to put together your critical team members. In other words, do not rely on your current company or organization to do this for you. You do it. 

Man or woman, early career or late career, this message is meant for you, really for all of us. Some of the Lynette Lewis formula for creating a board and tips to do it occur throughout her book that emphasizes quite a corporate focus on career progression with a strong, liberating and entrepreneurial spirit.

She understands that board members must perceive the value proposition in serving on your board and you must offer something in return. She also understands the value of ideas, connections and inspiration that board members on a personal board can supply. Lewis also emphasizes the kind of specific, thankful spirit that must be acknowledged by you to your personal board. 

Just a few tips that I like on creating your personal board include:

– Taking great care in choosing and approaching your potential board members

– From Doug Eadie, author of Extraordinary Board Leadership, - create "high impact boards"

– Focusing on evsluating the Time, Talent and Treasure the person may bring to your board

– Reminding us that success is a barbarous journey without key confidantes

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I would emphasize to anyone considering the development of their own board a few pointers that will make it more successful. These ideas don't need to be in stone. But in working with executive men and women in career transition for 20 years I would also add:

– Consider board members who don't work at your current company

– Be willing to hire someone to serve on your board for a nominal fee or as a part of your team

– Remind board members of any confidentiality you will need as you ask for advice

– Set some limits on communication, what you will share and how often

– Talk to them about expectations (both sides) in their communication with you

Although it would be nice to have this personal board in place before you face career transition, it's certainly a good idea to develop this board even during an impending transition. I encourage you to look into these ideas as you pursue your work life mission. 

Would you like to set up a board of directors and have help? Do you want more ideas on this subject or do you have more ideas on this subject? We would love to hear from you.

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