Business

Whose board of directors are you on?

Consider your strengths when helping others

Jo Miller, CEO, Women’s Leadership Coaching Inc., Cedar Rapids
Jo Miller, CEO, Women’s Leadership Coaching Inc., Cedar Rapids

Editor’s note: This is a follow-up to a previous column published early in 2017, “Who’s on your personal board of directors?

There are four types of people that everyone needs to have on their personal board of directors.

l The Connector who makes introductions and helps you to grow your network.

l The Informational Powerhouse who keeps you current on the buzz in your organization and in the broader business environment.

l The Influencer who helps you get things done in areas outside your scope of influence.

l The Sponsor who pulls strings to accelerate your career.

It’s a good idea to have at least one of each type of board member in your network, and check in on a regular basis. With your personal board of directors in place, think about how you can give back to others.

Let’s say you want to help others develop in their careers, but like most busy professionals, are short on time to mentor a lot of people. Consider this alternate model: “Ask yourself: ‘Whose personal board of directors am I on?’” says Nehal Mehta, director of global partner sales with Veritas.

“Being on a personal board of directors is an opportunity to utilize and grow skills that are vital to your own career development,” Mehta adds. “It will help you grow as a leader. People will want to work for you. It is also a purposeful way to give back.”

It doesn’t need to be a formal arrangement. You can start immediately by spotting someone with talent who has the potential to grow. Dive in and assist them as a connector, informational powerhouse, influencer, or sponsor.

Play to Your Strengths

To truly add value to those individuals and avoid spreading yourself too thin, Mehta recommends playing to your strengths.

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“Are people reaching out to you as a connector, informational powerhouse, influencer or sponsor?” Mehta asks.

She recommends doing a self-assessment of your strengths, and considering which of the roles you already play. While there are benefits to playing all four roles, it is more likely that there are a couple that energize you and align with your strengths.

Mehta says, “I find that most often I am a connector.”

For example, once a year, Mehta hosts a of gathering of women for “high tea” at her home, inviting longtime members of her network to mix with others she had recently met. It is a remarkably effective way to facilitate connections.

One attendee, an author, picked up a speaking engagement after meeting a conference organizer at last year’s event.

Having built and led organizations with 150-plus engineers, Mehta often finds herself in the role of sponsor, advocating for people on her team. So what’s the key to effective sponsorship?

“Before recommending someone for an opportunity or project, I connect ahead of time with my peers to gain their buy-in.” Laying the groundwork before making a recommendation makes a big difference, Mehta says.

Getting Started

Consider which of the four roles you could fill on someone else’s personal board of directors. Are you best suited to being a connector, informational powerhouse, influencer, mentor or sponsor?

You don’t need to mentor everyone who asks. Don’t feel guilty about not personally mentoring every person you believe in and want to support, especially if you have other ways to meaningfully add value to their career.

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l Jo Miller is CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching Inc. and editor of BeLeaderly.com; @jo_miller.

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.