You need a motherhood advisory board

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

When I was growing up, a wise relative explained the concept of having an advisory board for different aspects of my life. In the corporate world, an advisory board serves as a group of people who give non-binding strategic advice to decision makers. The beauty of having an advisory board is that no single person must be an expert on everything, but you benefit from a wealthy bank of knowledge to draw from. I think every mom could benefit from having an advisory board for herself and her children.

Why do you need an advisory board?

Lets pretend for a minute that you are CEO of your household. Wait - you totally are! Nice work, Boss Lady! Anyway, you are the CEO. You're busy. You've got kids to take care of, play
dates to get to, school drop-off, doctors appointments, church responsibilities. You have a life to live, and the wide expanse that motherhood needs to cover is more than you can do alone.

An advisory board consists of experts (with degrees or not) that help you fill in the gaps of things you may not be knowledgeable or talented in. Your child's pediatrician can definitively tell if your kid is sick. You've got a friend who is passionate about fashion and more than willing to help you with your outdated wardrobe. Your child's teacher can (hopefully) give great pointers about how to help your child at home. These people are experts in their field - they've done the research and gotten the education (when needed) - and are committed to helping you become an expert on yourself and/or your child.
You probably already have the bones of an advisory board right now! But as a purposeful mom, why don't we just go ahead and make a complete and official Board of Advisors right now?

How to organize a Board of Advisors

  1. Start by thinking about people in your life who make you feel good when you are around them. You respect their opinions and their advice seems to usually ring true to you. As a friend, you trust them, and may already have shared a few intimate or important conversations. As a professional, you may also entrust them with bigger life issues like health care, finances, and career decisions. You know they genuinely care about you and are invested in seeing you succeed. This person could be any of the following:
    • spouse
    • friend
    • close relative
    • co-worker
    • church leader
    • teacher
    • coach
    • counselor
    • doctor
  2. As you go through the list, determine if the person has the qualities of a good board adviser. A great candidate for your board would be:
    • Trustworthy. A board adviser needs to have proven themselves to be honest and have integrity. You know you can bring a sensitive issue to them and it won't be spread.
    • Knowledgeable. Board advisers have individual arenas of expertise. Health, child development, financial intuition, creativity, social finesse, and faith are all aspects of being that people can be experts in. Not all of these people need to have degrees in their field they are advising you in. They just need to be passionate, have good street smarts, and extensive knowledge on their assigned topics.
    • Personable. A board adviser is someone you feel you can have a candid conversation with. You feel they listen to you and take your concerns and questions seriously. They deliver their advice with tact and a smile.
    • Team Oriented. You have a solid working relationship with this person. You feel that given a problem, you could find a solution together.
    • Objective. A good board adviser is able to give advice with no strings attached. That means that if you decide to not take their advice, they will not hold it against you. Your relationship does not hinge on whether or not you always listen to them.
  3. Once you have decided who belongs on your advisory board and why, make it official. It can be done pretty casually, if needed. You just simply make a mental note that that person is now an official board adviser. Or, if you want to get a little more fancy, you can write them down.

Note: You don't really need to tell your board members they've been hired. You can if you want to (I've never tried) but just remember - your board members serve you. I like the freedom to hire and fire at will. Speaking about firing, we should probably talk about...

What a board advisor is not

  1. The boss. YOU are the mom! YOU are the boss! An adviser's purpose is to help you make better decisions for yourself and/or your child. They are there to consult you. They don't get to make the decisions for you. Feels good to be CEO, doesn't it?!
  2.  Permanent. If someone on your advisory board
    • shames you
    • degrades you
    • talks down to you
    • does not have your best interest at heart
    • uses fear tactics to manipulate you, or
    • loses your trust,
you have the the right and responsibility to fire them. You are giving them your time, energy, trust, and sometimes money. If you feel they are not effectively advising you, give them the pink slip.* That being said, advisers are not always "nice". By nice, I mean that they don't always tell you what you want to hear, and may sometimes offer constructive criticism.  When your adviser offers insight or suggestions that anger, frustrate, or make you uncomfortable, really examine your feelings. Be honest with yourself - are they right? Is there room for improvement? Could trying things another way work? Consider what they say. You hired them, after all. Board advisers hold weight.
*Sometimes you will have people in life that you can't fire but don't meet board member qualifications, like health specialists and teachers. They don't necessarily need to be added to your advisory board; however, the information they provide can be helpful.

Are you ready to create your advisory board?

Having an advisory board empowers you as a mother. It helps you be informed and well-rounded. Your board helps you progress and supports you to success. When you've got a whole group of people giving you the best they've got and cheering you on to success, its almost impossible to not feel competent and confident.
You've got this, mama! Now get to work and hire some people, Boss Lady!
© Channing B. Parker. Design by FCD.