The role of the independent advisor to a business is to provide advice to the leadership team. This includes holding them to account for their decision making, ensuring the company is running effectively and representing the interests of the five key stakeholder groups (shareholders, employees, customers, communities and suppliers). The benefits realised are significant and varied, ranging from keeping a headstrong company owner on the primary business objectives, to reminding the Board of a FTSE250 company of their commitments to sustainability.
Choose your mentor carefully
While mentors play an invaluable role to individuals there may also be drawbacks to the relationship which you should be aware of. If the mentor is from within your company, it may be difficult to broach subjects with them which reveal your true motivations or feelings towards situations which occur at work. For example, if you’re considering leaving your company, you may feel unable to broach the subject with them for fear of jeopardising their loyalty to the company, assuming they feel duty bound to influence you to stay.
Creating your ‘Board’
Rather than gravitating towards one person, seek out a variety of individuals with different experiences who know you well, and who can unashamedly be called on for sound advice. Just like a Board, select them for their specialist skills or knowledge and their ability to help you evaluate alternative views and actions. It may be as straightforward as someone with significant experience of handling relationships with people; one who is opportunistic or has an opposing view towards risk. It could be someone who has succeeded following a major set-back, and I would certainly recommend developing a relationship with the most senior influential executive search consultant (head-hunter) you can.
The latter will bring you an insightful view of what is really happening under the skin of corporate Britain, and provide you with clear advice on the talent challenges facing CEOs and HRDs. A candid conversation around where you want to take your career can be enlightening, as a search consultant will be able to provide you with comparative feedback on how you’re positioned against your peers. They can quickly identify which of your strengths you are undervaluing and what you’re not demonstrating sufficiently enough to be considered seriously for the really top jobs.
As with any relationship, honesty is essential. Invest time, reciprocate with help and articulate what you want. You might just find that your ‘Career Board’ can deliver what you need.