As a leader, who are YOU spending the majority of your time with and on what? If the answer is only your own team, company or even sector then Dr Zella King would say that you’re looking in the wrong place.
Zella is woman on a mission. She wants you to step out of your comfort zone, to look past the people you rely on for advice and think about who really is going to help you achieve the results you want for your business.
She should know. She has spent her career studying the ins and outs of how business networks operate, applying academic rigour to her own commercial experience to develop a framework called the Personal Boardroom aimed at helping leaders identify exactly who they should be talking to.
Zella has identified twelve distinct roles that are needed in order to create your own Personal Boardroom. These are the key people that leaders need to surround themselves with in order to get results and realise goals. And as Zella says “This is not about connecting to people on Linkedin, these are about real, living relationships that you need to invest time in, your “go to” people”.
Grouped into three categories of influence; Information, Power and Development, a fully functioning Personal Boardroom should contain people who can provide the following support and expertise:
Customer voice – someone who helps you understand markets, customers and business opportunities
Expert – someone who gives advice based on their sector or challenge-specific expertise.
Inspirer – someone who inspires new ideas and brings fresh thinking.
Navigator – someone who can tell you who you need to know and who does what.
Unlocker – someone who provides access to resources (e.g. money, data, people’s time)
Sponsor – someone who speaks out to endorse you and your ideas to senior or important people.
Influencer – someone who works behind the scenes to win support and helps you get things done.
Connector – someone who makes introductions and connects you with people who can help you.
Improver – someone who gives candid, constructive feedback on your performance and development.
Challenger – someone who challenges your decisions and thinking and helps you see your errors and blind spots.
Nerve-giver – someone who strengthens your resolve at difficult times and gives you a sense of purpose.
Anchor – someone who keeps you grounded and holds you to account for the balance between your work and the rest of your life.
“For your Personal Boardroom to work you need to engage in conversations with purpose with each person who you have identified plays a key role for you.” says Zella. She believes that by thinking in this structured way about the roles each individual plays in your network you will create a more diverse support system which enables you to really move forward and achieve your goals and vision.
Think about who you would turn to when you have a big presentation coming up that’s keeping you awake at night. Zella says that in this case you would turn to the Nerve Giver you have identified in your Personal Boardroom for the words of encouragement you need at that point in time. Your Connector would be the person you have on speed dial when you need an intro to a key person in an organisation you are looking to partner with.
The Personal Boardroom approach turns the concept of networking on its head and instead focuses on strategically building relationships that work for you and your organisation.
“Without taking yourself out of your comfort zone and truly thinking about the connections you need to succeed, you are constraining yourself both personally and professionally.” Zella explains.
Having meaningful and engaged conversations with people who were previously not part of your circle of influence but who could potentially help you and your organisation see what is coming over the horizon is a necessary skill to develop and nurture to future proof not only your business but your career also.
“In fact, I believe it’s the differentiator,” says Zella “those leaders who really are prepared to invest time in building solid connections with the people from other industries, walks of life, cultures who can play a role in their personal boardroom, are going to be the ones who help you navigate these difficult waters and hopefully help you have those light bulb moments of how to capitalise on the possibilities of change.”
Create your own Personal Boardroom tool here.
Zella is often a regular contributor to our Connect programme. For more details on our 2018 programme and to download the brochure go to Connect 2018.