Be the CEO of Your Life: Build a Personal Board of Directors.
Mentoring has been a passionate topic for me over the last ten years. Like many women working in a male-dominated industry, I needed guidance to help me navigate challenging situations with a high level of emotional intelligence. However, I did not realize this when I was new in my industry, which resulted in many misguided steps. While confident leaders do not fear mistakes, they make sure to learn from them and recover quickly. This realization is one of the most important lessons I have learned in my career. It has helped me personally and made me a better leader with the ability to empower my team.
Over the years, I have become the CEO of my own life and built my personal Board of Directors with different mentoring relationships. They each have vastly different backgrounds and add value in their way. Only one is a formal mentor that I meet with regularly through a structured program. The others have evolved organically through our interactions and a trust that has formed.
One is a good friend that I speak with regularly to be completely vulnerable and share my emotions. Another is a male coworker that helps me understand the male perspective and potential misunderstandings due to gender dynamics. A female coworker best understands the challenges and unconscious bias we encounter in the day-to-day of our industry. The CEO from a different sector shares with me the lessons they have learned and helped me look at things from a bigger picture. Lastly, the coach gives me tools to sharpen my skills and strengthen my mindset.
I have different relationships with each one and go to them for various reasons. Their insight and support are invaluable and make me a better leader. My Board of Directors changes and evolves over the years and is not limited to a set number of people. It is not formal, and in fact, I do not think any of them realize they even have the position. That is the power of modern mentorship. There are so many ways to create connections that can help you learn and grow. You only need a growth mindset and a willingness to ask for help, listen and learn.
While both traditional and non-traditional mentoring serve a purpose and I encourage you to look for multiple mentors. A mentor is there to guide you by helping you figure out the answers for yourself. They are not there to tell you what to do. So having many different connections will only make you stronger through more shared experiences and lessons, plus learning different leadership styles. As the best leaders are authentic and have developed their method, your Board of Directors will help you become the best version of you, enabling you to go further and get there faster.