Companies create a board of directors to provide strategy and guidance aimed at helping the company achieve its vision and goals. If you aspire to advance your career and leadership role, creating your board of directors is a critical step in helping you achieve your goals.
For the sake of easy-to-use language, I call this process "creating your Trusted and Loyal Team." But for a visual, having a boardroom table is good.
Picture your team around that table. Who is present? Who has your back? Do you feel like the table is full of people to support your vision, or does it feel a little like some random friends and relatives you picked up on the way to a party?
You will want to learn to consciously create a trusted and loyal team. This will be made up of particular people that, just like a board of directors, serve a particular function in supporting you and can be traded out when your goals change or grow.
Studies have shown that men in the workforce build their advisory team and networks with specific goals in mind. Men combine business and pleasure to meet a particular work progression. They look for people that have what they want and can help them get there.
Women tend to look first for people they like and trust. Then they look for commonality in values and only ask their networks for help when they need a referral or funding (raising money). Women have a natural networking ability, but they tend to fall short in building a trusted and loyal team to help them with their goals.
In part one of this article, we'll look at the four categories of people you want at your trusted table. In part two, we'll go into more depth about the people and roles you'll need them to serve. Finally, in part three, we'll look at actual steps we can take to build our networks and this trusted support team.
The Four Types of People at the Table
To create your trusted and loyal team to support you in achieving your goals, you must first understand the types of people you want to find.
Well, backtrack a bit. First, you have to set your goal, know what you want, and be willing to work for that goal. If you haven't done that, I suggest you go back to read the first few articles in the Cause and Success series
You'll not only want people at your trusted table that know you personally and understand your industry but also people who do not know you personally and know nothing about your business or industry. This process is pretty straightforward, so let's dive in.
The Four Types of People You Want on your Trusted and Loyal Team
1. Knows You; Does Not Know Your Industry or Business
You need someone who is on your side no matter what. They know you and love you no matter if you get the raise, secure a promotion, or sit on the couch eating a second bag of potato chips. They do not care about your industry or job title. They know you
This person can be a parent, sibling, friend, or mentor; it's someone who can spot your patterns that may be holding you back and who loves you enough to call you out on the behaviors.
You must respect these people enough to listen when they are brave enough to speak up, whether they are cheering you on or saying "Time to get off the couch."
2. Knows You; Knows Your Industry & Business
This person sits at your trusted table as someone who knows you and what you are capable of in terms of your work goals or industry. You want this person to be able to open doors and help spot opportunities for you and your business. This person knows you, but they also understand the ins and outs of your particular goal.
If you want to secure a position as a regional sales manager for a cloud services company, this person has probably excelled in sales or understands cloud services.
If you are looking to move up to a senior product manager position for large agricultural machinery, this trusted member understands agriculture and what it takes to be a successful product manager in that environment.
Unlike the person that knows you but not your industry, who will cheer for you no matter what, the person in this category falls under more of a mentorship or supervisory role. They can hold you accountable for your goals and what you may need to learn to achieve your next goal.
3. Does Not know You; Knows Your Industry & Business
The next two categories are where women can tend to veer from their plans because, generally speaking, women do not network with people they do not know. There is a tremendous value in adding these people to your trusted and loyal team.
These people are your industry mentors who are not going to be drawn into any story you have about why you can or cannot achieve your goals. They do not know you on a personal level. They know your industry or the job you seek, but do not know, nor particularly care, about your limitations or qualifications.
This person sits at your table for a shorter period of time to help open doors, connect you to opportunities, and point out industry standards about which you may not be aware. You learn skills and who you need to be from these people.
4. Does Not Know You; Does Not Know Your Industry or Business
This final category of people at your table is the most overlooked. We wonder, "How can someone who does not know me, nor my industry, be of help?" Think of this person as more of a chair of your personal development committee.
The person may know a particular skill you need to learn like sales, digital marketing, ag-tech trends, leadership, or communication, but they are not particularly "married" to a specific industry or work culture.
These people are often paid to be at your table. Perhaps you find a career coach, executive coach, mentor, or strategic partner. This person will not get duped by your story of limits or past success but also allows you to be the expert in your chosen industry or business.
You may choose to have a couple of people in each category on your trusted and loyal team, but you must have at least one of each to help you meet your goals. People who know you understand what you are capable of and will cheer for you, listen to you, and be that shoulder to lean on when things get tough.
People that know your industry help to open doors and spot opportunities for you. Team members who do not know your industry are there to help you with specific needs or skills that are transferable to all sorts of career or life paths. Finally, trusted people who do not know you personally are valuable because they see you for exactly how you are presenting yourself rather than being drawn into your life story of who you think yourself to be.
Next time, we'll look at who these people are and what it really looks like to build your team. How do you ask people to help? Do they know they are on your team? Do they understand your goals?
Until then, get curious, stay connected, be confident, and follow your dreams!