The savviest leaders don't look to one point-person to satisfy all of their development needs. Instead, they seek out the consultation of many mentors and advisors. Your "personal board of directors" should serve you the same way that a typical board serves a company: surrounding you with diverse expertise and helping you with important decision making.
Women should look for advisors who can get them exposure and endorsements, provide guidance around professional image and presence, and expose the mentee to valuable connections and job leads. As the women I interviewed in my book conveyed, rarely can you find one person that meets all these needs, so it is important to seek out different advisors.
A woman can begin to assemble an advisory board by identifying existing people in her network or organization whom she admires. These advisors are people with important connections and those who want to see you succeed.
Remember though, just as there is certain etiquette to adopting a mentor, you need to thoughtfully manage the advisor-mentee relationship. Most advisors are more than happy to provide guidance to a protégé who is eager to learn and uses the advisor's time well. At the very least, express gratitude to advisors and offer to reciprocate your board's generosity by lending them a hand in their future endeavors. One small way that I have tried to repay my mentors, in part, is by writing them glowing recommendations on LinkedIn. In the case of one specific mentor of mine, I regularly lend him my expertise by reviewing assessments he creates for his clients, a skill I used as a full time assessment consultant earlier in my career.
Where can you be of service to your board? Offering to help is likely to go a long way on its own. As you develop your board, keep in mind that what you need in an advisor will change over your time. As your career goals move and expand, continue to look for new advisors to meet your needs.
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