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No Man or Woman is an Island: Who is on Your Cheering Squad?

Mary Rosenbaum | July 20th, 2011

Who is on your cheering squad? Who is in your box? I loved watching all of Novak Djokovic’s family, friends, team members, and compatriots leap to their feet, tears in their eyes as Djokovic won the last point of the men’s singles tennis championship at Wimbledon earlier this month. The tension of the two week tournament coupled with a year of hard work and much transformation was clearly visible on all their faces throughout the event. But success proved to be the great antidote to all the stress. Success for them and for him.

Djokovic did not nor could not win all by himself.

His team - his family, friends, coaches, physician, nutritionist, physiotherapist, trainer, and his many vocal Serbian fans – provided Djokovic with the mental, emotional, and physical support, encouragement, and expertise that helped propel him to achieving his #1 ranking in men’s tennis.

Who do you turn to for expert advice, support and encouragement? A friend, colleague, relative, spouse, partner? A common problem many professionals face, whether they are entrepreneurs or careerists, is trying to do it all themselves. Life is tough enough without having to be an expert in everything you do. A “board of advisors” who you can run ideas past, who have an expertise that can prove valuable to you, who provide you with a realistic appraisal of your actions, and who support your goals and dreams is a necessary ingredient to getting to where you want to go.

At the same time, there is nothing worse than having a great “board of advisors” and ignoring what they have to say. This has been a difficult year for Djokovic and he relied heavily on the many members of his team, implementing changes in his diet, his coaches, his behavior with the media and with his opponents, his focus and his body language both on and off the court. Trusting his team and the advice they provided enabled him to win.

Achieving success in your career or business requires the same level of commitment from your team or board of advisors as it does for professional athletes. So how can you select the members of your team? What should you be looking for? Here are some ideas to incorporate when forming and working with your board of advisors.

1. Find experts who can fill the gaps. If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner perhaps your need is for someone with financial strength or marketing prowess. A coach might be in order for you if you are aspiring to take on a leadership role. Surround yourself with those whose expertise dovetails well with yours so you can focus on what you do best and rely on them for the advice and knowledge that make them experts in what they do.

2. Commit to being open minded. Learn to accept criticism without becoming defensive.

3. Don’t fall in love with your ideas or your team members if something is not working. Djokovic hired a second coach, Todd Martin, but quickly learned that this decision was not a good one for his team. Admit mistakes and move on.

4. Trust your board of advisors. You don’t have to love all your team members. Mutual respect is earned based on the value they provide. And respect results in trust.

5. Look for team members who have a variety of experience. Answers come from many places, so the greater the depth and breadth of experiences they can call on, the better your results.

6. Make sure everyone has the same goal in mind. Clearly define what your goals are and what time frame you have in mind. If you all know where you are going you have a better chance of getting there on time.

7. Ask for help. This is the hardest advice to follow. Yet, if you do ask more often than not you will be rewarded with more than you expect.

8. Give back. Especially to those who “volunteer” to be on your board. There is tremendous power in teams that help one another reach their goals.

No wo(man) is an island. Going it alone takes longer and generally falls short of what you can accomplish. What are some of the attributes you look for in your team or board of advisors?

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum empowers careerists and entrepreneurs to gain greater clarity and more effectively communicate their unique promise of value. Strong leadership means leading with your strengths. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

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