Standard advice for people looking to reach a new career level, get a promotion or start a new business includes things like, “Give more value to your workplace, get noticed … demonstrate your leadership abilities.” Those are all great tips, but I’d add another one that you might find surprising. You need to get yourself some good critics.
Yes, you read that right. One of the best ways to move up to the next level is to surround yourself with people who can hold you and each other accountable, help identify areas of improvement, give quality feedback, and help motivate you along the way.
One way to do that is to have your own mastermind group, which is something I’ve been a part of for over 10 years. A similar approach by another name is to create your own personal board of directors.
Personal Board of Directors
A great description of this approach comes from Harvard Business Review’s To Get Promoted, Get Feedback from Your Critics, by Sabina Nawaz:
The board is a group of six to eight people you select to help with your professional development — individuals who can help you uncover your blind spots, provide specific feedback by seeing you in action, and, in some situations, advocate for you. They can help you navigate tumultuous political waters, provide you with insight on a regular basis that can inform the ways you work and think, and even change the minds of your toughest critics.
The article goes on to suggest three “unconventional but important roles to fill on your personal board of directors.” They are:
1. Your Fans – These people help you learn how to change.
2. Potential Sponsors – These people are senior leaders who can advocate for you when it’s time for promotion.
3. Your Critics – These individuals have deep-seated perceptions of you and can block you from advancing.
Having your own personal board of directors is an intentional way to learn from others, some of whom aren’t necessarily on your side – at least not at the beginning. I hope you’ll take a look at the article and consider if this is a good option for meeting your career goals.
I mentioned earlier that I have a mastermind group, which is a concept popularized by Napoleon Hill’s The Law of Success, and Think and Grow Rich. According to Hill, a Mastermind group is “ … a friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage one to follow through with both plan and purpose.”
Such a group is generally made up of five or six peers who want to grow in some capacity and will both give and receive advice. There isn’t necessarily one single leader or “teacher,” and meetings can range from brainstorming and educational sessions, to focusing on individual goals and issues. Members are free to be truthful (which involves honest feedback), and offer advice and support.
My own mastermind group is made up of women entrepreneurs and the benefits have been incredible:
- We’ve challenged and stretched one another to take on new opportunities in our business
- We’ve provided fresh insights, input, and new ways of thinking
- We’ve supported one another through difficult personal and professional relationship issues
- We’ve given each other candid, honest, no holds barred feedback
- We’ve held one another accountable to commitments
- We’ve been there for each other through the toughest of life challenges
- We’ve celebrated and acknowledged accomplishments – big and “small”
You might be wondering, “How do I get my own mastermind group?” My advice is to network with your peers, consider starting your own, or search online for a group near you that is accepting new members.
Make It Happen
If you’re looking to get to the next level at work, start your own company, or even begin a new career, finding a group to help you grow and develop is invaluable. Whether it’s by forming a personal board of directors, or joining a mastermind group, I encourage you to find the best fit for you and see where it takes you. And, if I can help in any way, reach out to me here.