Your Board of Directors

If you attended the 20th Annual Conference and Job Expo of NSHMBA in Atlanta, I hope you enjoyed -at least as much as I did!—the many talks and events that happened during those action-packed days.  Every time I attend a NSHMBA event, be it at the local or national level, I feel like I get a “shot in the arm” that energizes me and makes me proud of being a part of such an inspiring group of people that care so much about what is going on in their communities that are willing to spend some of their time and other resources giving back to many who are in earlier stages of their managerial careers.

One of the many talks I truly enjoyed was delivered by Ms. Iris Valdez, who spoke about “Creating a Personal Board of Directors” that each of us needs to cultivate and maintain in order to be as successful as possible.  Her recommendation stated that our personal “BOD” should have two family members –one that is successful and another one who is not, to provide a balance—, an old boss, and someone we have mentored in the past.  Clearly, this advice is very culturally fitting for cultures like ours that make every effort to keep family close.  I would only add a “future” dimension to the parameters for choosing personal BOD members: finding a mentor who currently is or has recently been in a position or industry we are interested in reaching in the next five to ten years might be a helpful complement.

Ms. Valdez’s inspiring advice makes a lot of sense in the face of the empirical evidence from the Management research.  Recently, my colleague Dr. Gayle Baugh, from the University of West Florida, presented a paper at an academic conference, in which she examined whether “more mentors are better” and concluded that indeed, it’s better to have several advisors, rather than rely on a single one for career advancement.  On its face, this might sound like a trivial question until one considers the fact that each mentoring relationship tends to be very demanding of time and other resources if it is to be truly successful (and I really mean “mentoring” instead of coaching, role modeling or casual advising, which are much less involved; for details, see page 8 in last month’s bottom line, in which I wrote about what best mentors DO and what mentoring relationships are NOT!).

I also found very interesting that two of the tracks that NSHMBA’s own BOD has identified as priorities for the near future were referred to in that talk: Enabling Mentoring Experiences and Joining Boards of Directors.  The rationale for this second track is that Hispanics in corporate America –particularly at the top levels—are vastly underrepresented.  I believe it is a neat allegory that having a personal BOD might be an effective way to join a corporate BOD. 

What do you think?  Are these ideas likely to increase your interest and involvement in NSHMBA?  If you are on either side of a BOD (inside, with some lessons to share, or outside, interested in joining), why don’t you share your thoughts as to how valuable a mentor can be?  Are there other more valuable strategies that should be taken into account?  As always, I invite you to share your thoughts by emailing me at, faxing at 814.393.1910 or posting a comments on this blog.

And, of course…  Merry Christmas!  Happy Kwanzaa, Hanukkah,…!!!  Hope that your worst moments in 2009 are like the best of 2008!!!

To learn more, check out:

• Behan, B. (2007).  Should you join a board?  Video clip by Hay Group Managing Director Beverly Behan; she provides hints to systematically evaluate whether you should join a board of directors.  Click here to see it.

• Ragins, B.R. & Kram, K.E. (2007), The Handbook of Mentoring at Work: Theory, Research, and Practice. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.