Board You Cannot Afford One Year On - The Importance of Finding Your Tribe

Board You Cannot Afford One Year On – The Importance of Finding Your Tribe

It’s a year since I published what has to date been my most viewed and read Wise Sherpa blog – Why It’s Critical to Have A Board You Cannot Afford

The blog was born out of my work as a consultant and coach. In particular, it focused on why and how Founders, CEOs and Business Leaders need to build a Board You Cannot Afford, a personal board of directors as a fundamental pillar to their current and future success.

Over the past year, I have continued to spend much of my time working with my clients on the issues of profile, exposure, networks and connecting with impact and authenticity (increasingly in the virtual space) – all of them integral to the concept of Board You Cannot Afford. Once clients grasp the approach and start to plan and execute, results come quickly which is hugely rewarding. What has however become more apparent through my work is that there is something more that is needed now more than ever and that is the concept of Tribe*!

What do I mean by Tribe?

The Board You Cannot Afford approach is powerful – helping leaders identify key gaps and opportunities to forge and nurture critical relationships based on reciprocity to power their journey. However, it does not necessarily meet the needs they have for companionship, peer learning and safe space on their leadership journey. Coaching helps with the creation of safe-space to discuss and explore issues, but a Tribe is where clients find space to exchange frankly, get support, share ideas and learn from each other’s’ experience and where they can truly be themselves.

Arguably male leaders, possibly due to their far higher numbers, have opportunities to connect with peers more naturally than women in the similar positions. Female leaders across sectors, functional specialisms, locations etc. can find themselves a rare bread and therefore very alone and potentially isolated – but maybe female leaders also look to connect and find support in different ways to men and finding a Tribe is therefore more appealing to them.

The concept of a Tribe as part of Board You Cannot Afford is an exciting one that I’ve been ruminating on for a while. The world of virtual connection and collaboration has offered up huge opportunities in the past 12 months, largely catalysed by the pandemic and has subsequently blown up many of the associated biases or assumptions in particular whether it is possible to create powerful connections virtually. So, it’s only natural to explore the potential of finding your Tribe virtually as well as in person. The virtual approach affords a huge opportunity especially to female leaders who are typically very time poor, often anchored to a specific location (frequently related to caring responsibilities) and do not necessarily prioritise their development needs as leaders in the same way that many of their male peers might. But even with the possibility of the virtual approach, it can be difficult to figure out how to go about finding and building your Tribe.

A good first step can be to identify leaders in your area of interest with whom you would like to connect but haven’t had a chance to. These can be individuals who have encountered or are faced with some of the same challenges as you and where you think it could be valuable to share, learn and connect. Warm introductions through shared contacts are always helpful to send them out.

For the Tribe to get off the ground quickly, it is key to have some form of agreed upon common purpose. What does this look like? At the start of lockdown, when it dawned on a group of us female founders that we were going to need to rapidly upskill and upgrade our communications, we created our own small Tribe where we talked on a fortnightly basis initially about our content, shared contacts for interviews, reviewed each other’s content and ensured we also amplified it into our different networks and spheres of influence so it would reach beyond our own echo-chambers. The common purpose that bound us together as a Tribe was our belief that the world needed our diverse range of voices and perspectives to be heard now more than ever. Fifteen months later, we are still connected and catch up once a quarter virtually whilst continuing to nurture our relationships and each other’s’ work in between.

If you are intrigued by the concept of Tribe and want to know more, I am looking at setting up two pioneer Tribes from September of powerful female leaders including founders, CEOs and leaders in large and scaling organisations who would be interested in being part of a small cohort supporting each other on their journey to growing themselves, their businesses, and their profiles over the next 12 months. The common purpose that will bring us together is that we believe there is a better way forward to grow organisations and businesses as a power for good anchored in people, planet and profit. If you are interested in joining the pioneer Tribes, let me know!

*I’ve played with lots of names for the concept of  Tribes  – incl community, village, collective, but none have landed as well as Tribe.

Rebecca Hill of Wise Sherpa is a consultant, coach and mentor. For more information, please get in touch using the details on the contact page of the Wise Sherpa website.

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