My Board of Directors

This is a concept my father shared with me a while back.  He said “Brian, who is on your board of directors?”
We talked about it some — he knew that I have a pretty solid knowledge and understanding of how non-profit organizations work, so we put it in terms like that.  (Side-note: I sit on a board of directors for a small international non-profit)

For a non-profit, there is an executive director(ED) who works to ‘run’ the organization.  This person is hired and paid by the board.  However, the board does not do any of the day-to-day operations.  The board advises, tosses out opinions, and shares insight with the ED.

In my student affairs world and in my job search, I have a board of directors.  Members shuffle on and off it with some degree of regularity – although some people seem to have life-long terms.  These are people who advise me, council me, encourage me, and also tell me how it is.  Some would call these people mentors – I have mentors who serve on the board, but not all board members are always mentors.  I also have mentors who are not on the board.

For me, these relationships are important.  The board size is constantly fluctuating – I think it has about 20 people on it currently.  I don’t tell most of them that they are on the board, but I do listen to them and thank them for their contributions.  My big requirement for my board is that they need to be either currently in my field – or have been in my field.  Also, I need to feel like they care about me – to some degree or another.

I spend a lot of time emailing & calling my board members – constantly updating them as to what I’m up too and seeking advice for the rough moments or words of encouragement to keep me focused.

So – do you have a board of directors? Do you ask them for help? Do you let them challenge you?
Flip side- how do you engage with your board?



4 responses to “My Board of Directors

  1. Brian, I never thought of my “inner circle” as a board of directors, but it’s a great analogy! I’ve found it useful to bounce ideas off of my close friends that do not work in higher education as well. Sometimes, I get really great, honest feedback from these ‘board members’ that don’t think like we’ve been trained to think.

    Great post!

  2. Pingback: Helping your partner move « brian p gallagher

  3. I really like this analogy! Especially as I have had to work with many people on BODs who were not pleasant to be around. However, despite personal feelings, they really helped me grow and helped our organization improve. I wonder what sort of people I have that fit that description in my life?

    • Remember Parttimehumanbeing – this board of directors is ‘unofficial’ — it might be your father, first supervisor, a favorite professor, and a colleague at another institution — these are all people who you turn to for advice. Not a real BOD — however, I agree with you- sometimes a real BOD can be tough to work with even though you can learn a lot from them! Glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂

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