Advisory Board vs Board of Directors

“The more specific or clear the business owner can be about the objectives and the problem that they are wanting to address, the more effective the advisory board can be in helping them address that situation or that problem.”

Jo Hanlon


For some business owners an Advisory Board can be the difference between remaining sane and succeeding. Running a business can be complex; lonely, scary, causing uncertainty and doubt, as well as the added responsibility of providing certainty for staff. An Advisory Board provides coaching, mentoring and business advice for individuals, teams and organisations. They boost productivity, open communication channels and cultivate positive workplace cultures. The focus is on achieving defined goals and creating lasting change.


Welcome to this week’s podcast, which is quite a milestone for The Culture of Leadership (TCoT), as it is our 50th episode! Today we welcome Jo Hanlon, Founder of Mind Your P’s – People, Productivity, Potential. Jo is passionate about people who are committed to taking action and truly care about themselves, their team and business. The underlying principle of her whole career (which started as a Registered Nurse), is about people; particularly those who work with a blend of head, heart and intuition. For Jo it’s all about making the business better, as well as helping her own team reach their goals and ultimately seeing them thrive.


Have you read: Is a Culture of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Important? Erica Johnson


Jo’s corporate experience began performing as ‘a most highly trained monkey’, a term she refers to in relation to attending so many training courses. It was a fantastic training ground and she has still got a whole lot of documents on her bookshelf to prove it! However, for the last 13+ years she has focused on the power and value of a structured Advisory Board approach, to support the achievement of business goals and outcomes. The joy of seeing people in a different place today, than they were yesterday, is what gets her out of bed in the morning.


Research shows that 74% of people are looking for growth in their business, 17% are looking for succession planning, 5% are looking at increasing the asset value and 5% are looking at the sustainability of operations or their business model.


A survey conducted across Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Countries shows that 6% of businesses would benefit from enlisting an Advisory Board. So, let’s start by defining the difference between an Advisory Board and an Executive Director and Governance Board.


Advisory Board

  • Group of people appointed by the organisation to provide specialist or strategic advice to help solve a range of difficult or complex business problems
  • Leverage their experience and skills to create problem solving or solution finding space
  • No legal or fiduciary responsibility
  • Can be formal, with a certified independent Chair, or informal

In other words, someone has got the business owners back.


Executive Director and Governance Board

  • Group of people who are legally responsible for the governance, control, direction and management of an organisation
  • Governed by the Corporations Act Legislations and Regulation
  • Elected by the business shareholders to make decisions on their behalf
  • Accountable for the performance of the organisation

In other words, a structured group is put in place to tell the business what to do.


Have you read: The Culture of Thought Leadership – Peter Winick


Is your business one of the 6% which would benefit from an Advisory Board or, perhaps it needs both? Do you have the courage to participate in a formal assessment and let people into your organisation?


The first steps are always the hardest. Then it’s about being willing to make the changes needed or, run the risk of going to stagnate.


Click here to learn more about the culture of Advisory Boards and to understand whether your organisation would benefit from this support.


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