Thursday, 1 October 2015

Do you need your own board of directors?

Last week we had a Sibling Dinner. Yes, with capital letters! This is a rarity these days (since the brother exited Europe stage right and spent longer than we care to remember hiding (I mean surfing) in Australia). So when it does we all sit up and take note! We had a brilliant evening, sharing anecdotes, debating each others lives and decisions and generally setting the world to rights.

At the end of the evening, after a heated debate about 'where I should be going and what I really should do next' (who isn't always deliberating this?!) my the brother exclaimed in jest 'Gosh, I feel like we're your own board of directors Marian!'.

And it's true. They are.

My rowdy rabble of a board on a recent Away Day in Tuscany (photo credit: Izzy Eeles)

I firmly believe that everyone needs a board of directors. It might seem like a rather dramatic statement, but bear with me on this one...

Why do we need a board?

Most of us will already have a few directors of sorts, although in reality they are more likely to be known as 'best-mate-Anna', 'Grandmole' or 'friend-I've-known-for-ever-Helen'! The people we naturally gravitate towards as we try and make our minds up on big life decisions or the people we seek out for refuge when the going gets tough.

Nothing happens in a vacuum. We all need others in our world who we can rely on to help guide us and mentor us through this whirlwind called life! We may find them in the most unlikely places - be it a kind face at the bus stop or a friend of a friend who just seems to 'get us' and we click with instantly. 

Execs vs Non-execs?

My executive directors I like to think of as those that I am closest to - they can be totally honest (sometimes brutally so!), they know you inside out and often know how you're going to act before you do yourself! In this bucket I'd include my brother, sister and 'rents plus my good friends. They're definitely all fighting in my corner!! 

On the flip side, non-execs would be the folk slightly less invested or engaged in your everyday life. Ideally with have a wealth of experience to drawn upon, in a particular area or just life experience in general. And these 'directors' play a slightly different role. When you feel like you've tried every avenue, they can offer up new potential solutions. When you're worried out of your mind, they provide perspective and calm. And when you're dithering and indecisive, they are a bouncing board for your ideas. 

The list of our potential non execs is long - ex colleagues, formal business mentors and partners, relatives and friends. We may check in with them every now and then, once a year or anywhere in between. Our relationship has strong foundations and they know us and our ambitions and yet at the same time they are distant enough to have a sense of perspective.

In this group I would count myself super lucky to have some ex colleagues who's opinions I trust, old friends who go 'way back' and some slightly newer ones too! 

The range is key. 10 people giving you the exactly same advice is not necessarily helpful (although it can help reinforce a decision you've reached). In reality, what we really need is a wide spectrum of opinions and perspectives. Some may not resonate with us and others will really strike a chord. But at least this way we will have considered all the possible options and leaving us free to follow our own gut feeling!

Give and Take

Who have you identified that are already on your board? And who do you want to add? Seek them out. Our relationships need to be nurtured and this is not a one way street. In fact, you are probably on quite a few other people's board of directors too!

So, next time you're stuck with a difficult decision or in dire need of a pep talk to pull yourself together, don't dither and panic - consult one of your directors!

P.s. you can find more ramblings on hanging out with my grown up siblings here