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?