The mortgage and finance broking arena is changing fast, and the pace of change is quickening. The pressure to sustain a flourishing business in a wildly chaotic and frantic marketplace falls on the individual leader or business owner. To thrive consistently over the long haul requires discipline and a reliable way for dealing with new opportunities and unforeseen adversity. Being strategic has become the new leadership trait that is allowing organisations and individuals to outstrip others.
One of the most powerful tools to facilitate a greater level of being strategic is an advisory board. Advisory boards, however, are a much underutilised resource that are often not well understood.
A great advisory board is an amazing tool for family-owned businesses, small business or entrepreneurs, and is exactly what the name suggests: a small group of people that advise in areas that you would otherwise not receive advice. These advisory boards can be as small as two or three people, meeting two or three times a year – maybe for just two or three years before being refreshed with new people or disbanded all together. They are not formal directors of the company, and they are not there to tell you how to do things. They are there to ask questions that you hadn’t thought of asking, and to open up the conversation so that you can be strategic.
If you are looking at moving into a new sector, a new industry, expanding in new ways, doing business in a different way or setting up a new business, then an advisory board will most likely be the single greatest asset you can develop for your organisation.
There are two key briefs to give any advisory board members: first, you are here to ask questions not to tell us how to do things; second, you are here to ask questions and not to tell us how to do things.
In order to create a high-performing advisory board, they need to incorporate these four elements:
• People from industries different to your business
• People with experience based on the direction your business wants to go
• Someone experienced with larger businesses and greater revenue
• People who are willing to ask questions – not those who will tell you how to do things
As soon as you think you have your business right, and you stop asking strategic questions, you have just begun to shut your business down. The role of the advisory board is to continue to ask questions and offer access to other networks and influencers to help your business adapt and grow, and to ensure you are being strategic now and into the future.
Steven Bowman, managing director, Conscious Governance
Steven Bowman is a leading international adviser in strategy, governance, risk and leadership. He currently consults with more than 1,000 non-profit and corporate organisations each year in Australian, New Zealand, Asia, the US and UK. He is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a fellow of the Corporate Law and Accountability Research Group at Monash University.
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