They say it’s lonely at the top. Unfortunately, it’s often true.
Leading a Company or a Team can limit the number of folks you can talk to, as now you have direct influence over their jobs and their lives. It’s hard for them to push back since you hold their near-term future in your hands. We all want to feel like we’re open to criticism, but we’re still human and even if we ask for the harsh truth, our Team will still be cautious about giving it to us.
As your Company or Team grows, the number of people who are impacted by your leadership grows exponentially. It can add tremendous pressure with very little way to share that pressure with anyone else who understands how you feel, especially in challenging times. You can feel the need to “never let them see you sweat” while secretly longing to talk with someone else who understands and can help you work through it.
Establishing a system for getting “outside” input can be an excellent way to help deal with those issues. Putting together a Board of Advisors, even an informal one, is a great way to bridge some of those gaps and get the feedback you need. It’s not just for challenging times and here are three big reasons why you might want a Board of Advisors:
- Board Meeting Preparation Helps You Organize Your Thoughts – It’s easy to get settled into autopilot as we run our businesses. We have plans, but we can easily drift from them if we’re not paying close attention. Having a regular trigger for review and reflection is an important way to keep your thoughts organized. Getting ready for each Board Meeting (we have ours three times per year) is a forcing function to help keep things on track. Reflecting on what happened since the prior meeting compared to your intentions and considering what you’re expecting to accomplish before the next meeting is very telling. Sometimes, organizing your thoughts in preparation can be almost as important as the feedback you get from the Board.
- A Board can Reveal Your Blind Spots – It’s natural to think we know ourselves and our Company extremely well. As much as that’s likely the case, we also struggle to know if we’re missing something. The reason they’re called “blind” spots is because we can’t see them. It’s a remarkable characteristic of humans that sometimes it’s easier for us to see things clearly when they’re happening to someone else. Just having an outside perspective can make a huge difference and provide awareness that we couldn’t get on our own.
- A Board Can Help You Grow Your Team – The Law of Familiarity plays out each day in our businesses. The more our Team is around us, the more comfortable they become. That’s great until it becomes harder to keep raising expectations for their performance and growth. With outside Board members, the familiarity is reduced. Creating opportunities for them to interact with the Board, will naturally be less comfortable for them. Making a presentation or reporting on a project can help stimulate growth for your Team in both their communication and leadership skills. Your Board can also provide feedback how your Team that can be invaluable as you move your Company forward.
Many business owners don’t want to “answer” to anyone. That’s why they started their company in the first place. While the feeling is understandable, it’s also limiting.
A Board of Advisors will help you lead your Team and your Company to success.
It can also make it just a little less lonely at the top.