Who to get 'on board' to help your next career move

by 29 Jan 2013

Organisations have boards of directors who work collectively to achieve corporate success. Heather Linaker suggests you can do the same with your professional life by having your own board to support your key goals.

When thinking of your next career move, you don't have to go it alone to achieve your vision - smart movers are creating their own personal boards to get the most out of their career, and their lives.

Organisations have boards of directors who work collectively to achieve corporate success. You can do the same with your professional (and, if you like, personal) life by having your own board to support your key goals. 

A personal board typically has 3-7 members and is focused on helping you achieve your vision. 

It is easy to get caught up in day-to-day busy-ness, and lose track of what is really important in your life. A personal board can help you to maintain a focus on what you have defined as your ‘big picture’, and to pursue it steadily and strategically. 

Career progression is a popular focus for a personal board, whether, for example, via professional development, a change of employer or creating your own business.

There are five key aspects to consider when you establish your personal board:


1          Board member qualities

  • Think of your personal board as your support team: your confidantes, the people who help you through challenging times. 
  • They must share your values and standards. 
  • You must respect them, and trust them implicitly: they will need to know (or get to know) your strengths and weaknesses, what makes you tick, and how to get the best out of you.  They must be able to hold you to account, and support you to overcome any fears you have about taking action.
  • They must be non-judgmental.  You don’t want anyone bringing undue negativity. They will be compassionate, but not ‘yes’ people: it is critical that they feel comfortable to challenge you, as part of bringing out your best.


2          What will each member bring ‘to the table’?

  • This will depend on your focus: is it personal, whole-of-life, or more about career development? 
  • Once you decide this context, think about the knowledge, skills, experience and perspectives required.  For career development, you may seek specific technical expertise (such as personal branding, recruitment, or resume writing).  You may also want at least one board member with extensive networks in your career area to facilitate key introductions; and a mentor or executive coach who can focus on developing your leadership abilities.  
  • Diversity is important: they should complement, rather than duplicate, you.  


3          How do I create my personal board?

  • There are people who may come to mind immediately as potential members: a mentor, or a ‘go to’ person. Start there, then think through all the other members of your network. 
  • Don’t be concerned if you have gaps.  You may need to enlist the help of others to fill these gaps, and you may not be able to fill them immediately.  As with a corporate board, it is worth waiting to find the right person to fill a vacancy, rather than rushing in.


4          When does my board meet – and how? 

  • How you meet (one-to-one, or as the whole board; in person, or via technology), as well as how often, is  up to you.  If you are focusing on a career change, you may wish to meet more frequently with personal board members who can help you kick-start the process, and meet with other members less frequently for general support.
  • Decide what works best for you and diarise it, so that you have these discussions regularly.  Without a schedule, it is easy for months to slip by without you having taken any action. Having a personal board is all about taking a strategic approach to achieving your personal vision, so regular action is critical.


5              What is your vision?

Put time aside each year to review your personal board in terms of your vision and key goals. As required, adjust your board so you have the ideal composition to help you achieve these.


About the author 

Heather Linaker is a CEO and Executive Coach Specialist at aventura3, and a former CEO of a major publishing company.  Contact her at heather.linaker@aventura3.com.au. www.aventura3.com.au