When speaking with my business partner the other day about a particularly tricky hiring decision, she shared a process that she was using to gather input and make an informed decision. She started with how she has asked her “council” for help and input. Intrigued, I stopped her mid-story and asked what is and who is on your “council”?
She explained that this was like her board of directors. They are a group of people that she has assembled to discuss and consult on important issues in her personal or professional life. She has the group organized much like a team organization chart, with each layer assigned a different weight.
At the top of the chart are the people who’s input and opinion matter most to her, e.g., carry the most weight in both her personal and professional life. The next layer down is two teams of people each dedicated to specific areas of focus — one group of people is strictly devoted to personal decisions or input needed, and the other is leveraged for professional issues. The final layer is populated with lessons and information she gathered from different sources; books, training courses, and webinars.
There is such value in formalizing a process that many women do already. We all have people that we consider when we have a big decision to make or are struggling with a problem. Many of us, including me, have a mental list of people that I consult for input but have never taken the time to write down. My council includes my husband, my sister, my business partner and my oldest friend on the top level. A layer down, my council splits into two teams each with a specific dedicated vertical expertise. The key characteristic of the people on my council are that in addition to being people I value their input, they are people that don’t always agree with me. Having objectivity is a fundamental ingratiate to a successful panel. Your council should undoubtedly be people that you trust, but they should also be people that you believe to represent an approach or opinion that differs from your own.
One of the barriers to creating a council for many of us, especially women, is that we have been conditioned NOT to seek help. Women have been socialized to believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness or incompetence. We carry on with “I got this” approach while inside freaking out and knowing that there is no way in the world that we have this.
Formalizing your council, structuring, and giving weight to those individuals that really matter can be empowering and confidence building. There is tremendous strength in understanding your capabilities including when and whom to engage for help when you need it. The most successful women and men I know all have advisors and teams that support and augment their abilities.
Establishing a council and asking for support is a sign of great strength, not weakness.
Who’s on your council?