Why You Need a Personal Board of Advisors (And Who Should Be On It)

A lot has been written about the value of a mentor on your career development.  I absolutely believe mentorship plays a huge role in our growth, but I also believe that a strong network, a personal board of advisors, is key to our success. 

What is a personal board of advisors?

It’s a team of people you call on to help make decisions and achieve your goals.  Just like a company needs an advisory board to do the same in the business world, we are more likely to reach new heights by forming our own personal board.  Forming a personal board of advisors does not mean that you physically hold group meetings. It means that you build strong, long lasting relationships with these individuals, keeping in touch regularly over time. 

So who are these individuals?

You want to aim for 3-5 people with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and offerings.  I believe the 5 members of your personal advisory board should be the following:

The Guru

This person is an expert of sorts.  They have prior experience in your field or line of work and understand the industry trends, patterns, and your possible career trajectory.  They have walked in your shoes before and navigated their own career path successfully.  They can provide tips and tools to help you do the same.

The Supporter

This person lifts you up when you are down.  They root for you, cheering alongside your career growth.  When you are questioning your own abilities or knowledge, this is the person you can rely on to boost your spirits.  They can provide encouragement to help you feel reenergized and confident about your work.

The Challenger

Because it wouldn’t be helpful to only hear the positive, you sometimes need a person to bring you back down to earth when you start getting a bit ahead of yourself.  This person is the realist who grounds you.  They play devil’s advocate, questioning your big ideas so that you fully think through decisions. They can provide their critical thinking skills to help you analyze your thoughts and behaviors from a new perspective.

The Teacher

The teacher is the wise, sage person who may or may not have a similar career background, but always seems to know how to handle difficult situations or decisions.  They have lots of life experience that helps them look at problems from multiple angles and approach each one calmly and rationally.  They can provide meaningful stories or insights that help you take a way a transferrable lesson.

The Coach

When you need someone to keep you on track, you turn to the coach.  This person is an advocate for your success, pushing you closer to your goals.  They help you create a timeline or plan to get where you want to go, then see you through to the finish line.  They can provide accountability to hold you to your plan to help you make it happen.


Reflect on those who have already played an important role in your career development.  Who’s missing from your board? Consider who you want to build new relationships with and who you want to be sure you keep on your board over time.  These people will be invaluable in helping you make tough choices, set new goals, and chart new territory.