Instead of a Mentor, Create a Personal Board of Directors

By: Melissa Campanelli

Have you read anything lately by Tracy Spears, the co-founder of the Exceptional Leaders Lab, a worldwide community of progressive business leaders focused on making a positive difference in their organizations? Spears is the co-author of “What Exceptional Leaders Know,” the best-selling book for progressive leaders everywhere. If not, you should!

In addition to her books, Spears has a great weekly LinkedIn Pulse column that covers important issues all exceptional leaders should be thinking about. (Full disclosure: She’s also one of the speakers headlining the pre-conference workshop taking place prior to the Women in Retail Leadership Summit (WIRLS). But more about that later.)

One of my favorite posts from Tracy was “Don’t Ask For A Mentor … Get Yourself a Board Member!” In the post, Tracy discusses that while mentors are very important to leaders’ personal and professional growth, perhaps it’s time for leaders to leverage their own personal board of directors (BOD) to bounce ideas off of and share best practices.

Spears notes that “Norman Vincent Peale was the first to write about the power of this idea. He famously called it ‘The Mastermind Group’ and wrote at length about using our relationships and imaginations to drive purposeful self-improvement. He understood, as did his mentor Andrew Carnegie, the power of deliberate time being spent with people who can influence you for the better.”

In the post, Spears lays out six key steps for putting a personal BOD together. They include the following:

  1. Do a little thinking about yourself and your current performance. Ask yourself some questions: What’s working for me? What’s not? Who is influencing me now? When do I have the most fun in my current role? What have I been doing the same way for too long? What are my greatest assets?
  2. Think about some people who have some of the spirit, capability, attitude, enthusiasm, credibility and influence that you would like to have. They can be peers, friends, authors, speakers, bloggers, poets, musicians, celebrities, athletes … whoever.
  3. Review this list and think about what you would like to learn or assimilate from each person. Who on your list do you have access to? How will you access him or her? It can be in person, over the phone, reading their books, seeing their work, etc.
  4. For the people you have personal access to, ask yourself a few more questions: Will this person give me some of their time? Will they give me unfiltered opinions? Can I do something in return? It’s not necessary to tell anyone that.
  5. Post your BOD somewhere you can see it and make a commitment to seek out input, content, lessons and conversations in any form from the members of your board.
  6. Review the concept occasionally and ask yourself if it’s adding any value to your development. You may need to be more active and overt, or you may need to shake up your BOD.

Great advice, don’t you think?

So, back to the Summit. Tracy will be joining Carol Seymour, founder of the Signature Program, for an exclusive session on “Becoming a Signature Leader.” Through an interactive workshop-style session, Carol and Tracy will provide attendees with simple strategies on how to own and leverage their unique signature brands; accelerate their careers; tap into their unique gifts to dramatically improve outcomes; lead with authenticity; and more!

The workskshop is taking place from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. at the Four Seasons in Miami, and it’s for WIRLS registrants ONLY. For more information about the Summit or the workshop, please drop me a line at mcampanelli@napco.com.

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