Top Tips for an Effective Board of Mentors

Written by Carol Coughlin. Posted in Business Leadership

Ever wonder how celebrities manage to look stunning all the time? They have a team of stylists working feverishly behind the scenes to turn a good-looking person into a superhuman. CEOs of growing companies need a team too. Instead of brushes, makeup, and strategically applied tape, their experts will bring business acumen, targeted experience, and essential contacts. Boards of advisors can help turn growth into sustainable profit. How can leaders leverage their boards and maximize results?

A Springboard to Success

Advisory boards exist to help CEOs and business owners access the best thinking, best practices, and best minds, not only in their industries, but also in fields that touch their strategic goals. Three tips to ensure your Board helps you achieve those objectives:

  1. Compensate fairly. You’ve recruited an elite team of advisors, and their time is valuable. While a good Board wants to help your company succeed and members are eager to offer wisdom, they also need (and deserve) compensation.

This looks different, depending on the company: it could be a stipend, fee per meeting, or a set rate. Some smaller companies have unpaid boards, offering equity instead of cash; some do both. Whatever compensation structure works for your budget, your advisors should have skin in the game. You want them to feel incentivized to help.

  1. Chemistry counts. Your Board is designed to fill gaps in your management team’s experience or expertise. These are 3-5 people you have hand-chosen, and you need to have a solid relationship with each so you can approach them with tough questions and trust that you’re receiving sound guidance. After all, you’re paying for advice! If someone on the Board is combative and unhelpful, he or she needs to go.

That’s not to say that you’re going to give a Board member the boot if she disagrees with you – in fact, in many cases you want her to disagree and to challenge. But if she does so in an antagonistic, disrespectful way, she’d be better off not getting a paycheck from you. Plus, there’s the risk that you’ll be tempted to do the opposite of anything she suggested out of sheer spite, which would be a risky way to run your business!

  1. Conduct an annual review.  Your needs are going to change over time, especially if you are on the ascent to growth. The questions and challenges you face today will not be the questions and challenges you face in two years or in ten. That means that the people best-suited to help you find answers will change with time. 

It’s important to be clear with Board members that they’re not going to be sticking around for 30 years. They can take their coats off and get comfortable, but they shouldn’t move in. Every year, take the opportunity to reevaluate and assess whether Board members remain a good fit or if you need to seek help elsewhere.

As a CEO or business owner, you have a full plate. BottomLine Growth can help you form a strong Board and facilitate its management. Whether you need to develop a financially-feasible compensation package, figure out how to review performance, or part with a Board member, professional facilitation frees you to concentrate on the big picture and continue your ascent.

You don’t need to be superhuman to achieve sustainable growth – but it helps! A Board of mentors can help today’s CEOs and business owners transform their leadership and take it to the next level. This is your team, working feverishly behind the scenes to ensure you succeed.

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Carol Coughlin

Carol Coughlin founded BottomLine Growth Strategies, Inc., in 2006 as a way for small and medium-sized businesses to access the same high-level financial and operational expertise that gives large companies a distinct advantage. Using her own extensive corporate experience and willingness to sit in the hot seat as a catalyst, Carol helps BottomLine Growth clients climb to the summit of their success.
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