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A psychologist sits on my personal Board of Directors. Here’s why.

Having soft skills is critical in leadership positions.


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Cassandra (Leong) Lister

2 years ago | 2 min read

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

Most of us are familiar with companies having a Board of Directors. The definition according to Investopedia is “A board of directors (B of D) is an elected group of individuals that represent shareholders. The board is a governing body that typically meets at regular intervals to set corporate management and oversight policies. Every public company must have a board of directors.”

The B of D usually comprises of a Chairperson (note I didn’t write Chairman!), the CEO (Chief Executive Officer), Executive Directors (EDs) and non-executive Directors (nEDs).

What is a 'Personal Board of Directors’? This is the small group of people that you go to for support and advice on advancing your career. Ideally, the "board" consists of individuals who have a strong personal and professional interest in seeing you flourish and succeed.

And what is their function? They can answer your questions, promote you to their network, serve as a sounding board, help you find new opportunities,and play devil’s advocate as you consider your next move. My own personal board of directors has helped me in a myriad of ways.

Do you have a ‘B of D’? Chances are that you may do. Were these people chosen consciously? Or subconsciously? There’s no right or wrong here. And it may have been a mix. However, it might pay to consciously do a mental audit from time to time and ascertain whether these person/s are still the most appropriate. This is what I have done. And added a psychologist to my Board.

So what does adding a Psychologist to my B of D have to do with advancing my career? Simple. Maintaining and/or Improving Mental Health. Covid has highlighted that OUR LIVES include both our personal AND professional. One cannot function successfully without the other. Or at least not optimally. Of course, we can try to keep some boundaries. If our mental health starts to suffer whether from personal or professional stress, there is an overall impact to our life.

The impact may or may not have major repercussions. But why take the chance of the latter happening especially if issues are starting to intensify?And I’m no hero. When we are responsible for LEADING PEOPLE, it is important to show that we don’t have all the answers. That our career paths aren’t linear (mine certainly wasn’t). And that as leaders, we need help too.

The best leaders are those who show vulnerability, show humility and who aren’t the smartest people in the room.

My current ‘B of D’ comprises a long-time mentor who is an accomplished Chairperson/Board Director across several large companies, an ex-boss, 2–3 trusted headhunters, 2–3 ex-clients and a handful of senior, in-house talent acquisition executives. And more recently, a psychologist.

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Cassandra (Leong) Lister

Mother of twins. Commonwealth citizen. Former Global Banker. Aspiring book author. All stories and opinions published are my own.


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