Sunday, August 20, 2017

Why You Need a Personal Board of Directors


Today I'm meeting up with my career planning posse. We call ourselves the Gang of Five and we've been meeting periodically for about six years to share our career challenges and aspirations, our plans; seek and offer advice, support, and the critique as appropriate. The Gang is my personal board of directors, who collectively and individually I can call on when needed. As a result, I've advanced my thinking about my career journey, if nothing more than to make it far more intentional.

Earlier this summer, I got to talk with my friend and colleague, Greg Stevens at the American Alliance of Museums, about career planning. The result is this interview, published at Alliance Labs. Greg is a terrific proponent of career planning and development -- not surprising since he's the Director of Professional Development at AAM and the co-author of A Life in Museums: Managing Your Museum Career. Whether you work in museums or some other type of cultural institution, check out the book -- you'll find it packed with great insights and advice.

Now back to a personal board of directors.

This group of people that you invite to help you make strategic decisions about your career needs to be a mix of people who can see the landscape from a 30,000-foot level as well as offer on-the-ground advice for navigating it. This isn't the group that gathers after work to moan about work over a few drinks. That may eliminate your grad school BFF and it almost certainly eliminates family and those whose emotional connection to you sways their perspectives about you. For more thoughts about 'strategic' network building, read Herminia Ibarra and Mark Lee Hunter's "How Leaders Create and Use Networks."

A personal board of directors can be all about you and your career. In the Gang of Five, we're about each other's careers as much as we're focused on our own. We've helped each other with job searches, resume review, sorting out employee conflicts, and cheering on the various publishing projects three of us have been involved in (as well as comparing notes about publishers).

The point is you don't have to chart your career moves in a vacuum, nor should you (and I ought to know, since I spent a good part of my career doing so).  I still rely on my own counsel for many career decisions, but knowing I have four colleagues I can call on who know my career aspirations well enough to ask tough questions and offer some creative and sound advice is like having that extra blanket on a cold night.