The March 2015 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review has a great article on building one's personal board of advisors. Tagline: "In today's complex business environment, one mentor is no longer sufficient. Executives and managers need an array of advisors, mentors and role models to provide critical information and support at defining moments." The authors identify 6 types of supporters, stretching from someone who takes an active role in a protege's career to someone who is not particularly close to the protege and even unmet heroes and anti-role models.
The six types are:
- Personal Guides. (Supportive relationship in the past, no current interaction. Role models, source of inspiration.)
- Personal Advisors. (Frequently interact with proteges outside work. Serve as emotional outlet or sounding board.)
- Full-Service Mentors or True Mentors. (Provide the protege with a wide range of career and psychosocial support. Usually outside the protege's current workplace.)
- Career Advisors. (Relationship involves job or professional needs and tends to be shorter in duration.)
- Career Guides. (Fairly limited relationship, triggered by specific events such as crises or career changes.)
- Role Models. (Passive or nonexistent relationship.)
The authors found that "relationships can change from one category to another as closeness and interactions wax and wane due to changes in an individual’s work or life circumstances. For example, the development of a personal friendship over time was found to be an important step associated with supporters moving from being guides or advisors to full-service mentors."
Further, "Seven relationship types (superiors, work teammates, manager/supervisors, former work colleagues, business associates, informal mentors and close and distant personal friends) accounted for 65.7% of all of the survey respondents’ personal advisory board members... [T]apping into relationships with individuals one already knows may be an especially good way to develop and enhance one’s personal board of advisors."
The article has more very valuable insights, for instance on the importance of fit and the impact of organizational context. The authors also discuss implications for organizations and individuals.
I highly recommend this article to anyone interested in professional development.