How to Create Your Personal Board of Directors

create a personal board Associations Now January/February 2016

Career advice from Carol Vernon, certified executive coach, principal of Communication Matters, on how to select who should serve on your personal board of directors to help you in your career.

Associations Now: What's a personal board of directors?

Vernon: A personal board of directors is a confidential sounding board for your crucial life and career decisions. It should be composed of current and former colleagues, peers, and close friends who know you and have useful points of view. They should be knowledgeable, good at brainstorming, and committed to helping you get insights into your strengths and weaknesses.

How should members be selected?

Include those people in your life who have a history of providing you with good advice, and who you would like to play a greater role in your life. After selecting your eight to 10 members, connect via email with your whole group so they can see who else is participating. Begin by thanking them for the value of the advice they've already given you and then provide background on what you want to accomplish by having a personal board.

How often should a person consult with his or her board?

It's key to engage your board members soon after inviting them and then to consult with them on a regular basis, say every six months, probably over Skype or something similar. In between, do calls with two or three board members monthly and, if possible, informally connect over lunch, drinks, or dinner.

How can having a personal board make a person a better volunteer leader?

Your board members will help you to assess your strengths and weaknesses, so when you walk into your next board meeting, you'll know what assets you can bring to the table to help ensure the association's success. You can also bring the experience of building your own board and offer insights when it comes to developing future volunteer leaders for your organization's board.

[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Create a Personal Board."]