Why you need a Board of Mentors
As a proud finalist for a Business Women of the Year award this month, I’ve been reflecting on my career including mentoring women in business. Throughout the award process, I’ve been encouraged to reflect on women who mentored me, what mentoring I needed, and how I found needed help to grow my businesses. I realized I had a Board of Mentors, an informal and unstructured group of women who helped me as I started out. I would not be where I am today without their help.
We all need help sometimes — to learn about an area we are weak in, to have more time for our business by having others do the parts we hate, and to show you the way when you don’t know what to do. As one author puts it: whatever we want to accomplish, someone has already done it and left a map for us, we just need to follow it.
When I started my first business, I belonged to a group with other business women, all from different areas. We meet once a month to eat, chat and share our stories (struggles), and we usually ended up helping each other with ideas and advice. At times, I received great advice, other times I gave it, and sometimes we just chatted about life and families. I have continued this both in business and athletics. I surround myself with people with more and less experience than myself, related and unrelated to my work, to support me.
I also currently sit on the boards of several charities and not-for-profits. These boards have impact and, in most cases, they are made up of people from different parts of society with differing expertise, and the work we accomplish for the organizations is meaningful. We come together with the common purpose of using our talents for the greater good of the organization.
While I belong to several groups for business women that are great for networking and sharing ideas, I think they aren’t focused enough.
What if each businesswomen had a Board of Mentors?
Not just an ad hoc group of friends or peers, but people selected for their skills and who are asked to share their time and talents to help other businesswomen get started? What if we took the board concept from large corporations and charities and applied it to our new businesses?
Imagine the impact it could have on our lives and businesses. Imagine a time where the mentee becomes the mentor and helps to inspire and share with the next generation on their Board of Mentors – the effects could be amazing.
Allyson Chisnall is the CFO and COO at MediaStyle.