Mastermind groups have been around for more than 90 years and have a mixed press. Some love them, some don't ...
Like any form of self-development, the concept has been interpreted in different ways and subsequently, groups vary hugely. So, it pays to take time out to check that the approach taken for any particular group is going to deliver what you want. Here are my suggestions of the things to consider before taking the leap.
What is the purpose of the group?
Is this clearly stated and does it match what you’re looking for? There are groups which have a generic aim around leadership or personal development or business growth. Others may focus on growing a business; others have a special interest to tackle one specific subject such as Sustainability or Education. They may be industry-specific or internal to a single organisation.
One note of caution here is to check the intent carefully when someone invites you to a private mastermind group for their organisation. You may be disappointed when the agenda is geared around helping them achieve their aspirations rather than the group as a whole.
Now, whilst you may benefit from being part of an advisory or virtual board in this manner, you are unlikely to be able to get the group to focus on your needs unless they happen to dovetail with the owners' agenda. This overt aim is likely to be stated upfront, however, the style and format of the meeting will also direct you as to the implicit purpose which is usually assumed.
If there is a mismatch here between the group and your assumptions, then at best, the group will not satisfy your needs and, at worse, the group will fall apart because of conflict or apathy.
For instance, if you are looking for an action-oriented group that will hold you to account, challenge you robustly, and evaluate your success and failures, then you are unlikely to fit with a group that offers a gentler approach that bounces ideas off each other and does not challenge if you choose to implement your learning or not.Are the right people in the room with you?
The concept of a mastermind group is peer to peer interactions that generate new perspectives by evoking the collective brain (the mastermind). So, the other people in the room need to have two apparently conflicting criteria; they need to be enough like you to be perceived as your peers, but different enough to generate diverse perspectives on any one issue. To be perceived as peers, all parties need to feel confident they can contribute as well as benefit from the engagement.
Ideally, the group needs to consist of a diverse range of people who all have relevant experience and/or knowledge relating to the purpose of the group. There is also that magic ingredient called chemistry, the combination of people needs to satisfy the unconscious minds of members; in other words, to fit with what your gut tells you ... to feel right.Is the group facilitated with skill?
The manner in which the meetings are facilitated will decide the success or otherwise of the group. Not everyone has the skill, knowledge or inclination to facilitate a group of people, especially when they are all leaders in their own right.
The facilitator needs to be outside of the group; their role is to safeguard the process, keep the group on track and ensure that all-important chemistry is healthy. They need to be objective, observing when the group is getting stuck or falling into bad habits such as the ubiquitous 'group think' and being skilled enough to guide the group back to its purpose without harming the relationships.
If the facilitator adopts a leadership role, either consciously or unconsciously, this will interfere with the group dynamics. Members slip into seeing them as the expert to whom others defer unconsciously and look to them to have the answers. This is particularly likely to happen when the facilitator is also a member of the group. Their input as a group member starts to carry more weight than others and inhibit others from giving critical input.
I would recommend groups with an external facilitator to reduce this likelihood and, if possible, see that individual in action to judge whether they act as a guide or leader. As Lynn Howard COO of Asentiv Worldwide put it when describing the role, "you are not the centre of their universe!"Do members get the opportunity to develop their interpersonal skills?
A common observation of good mastermind groups is the added value they offer members to develop their interpersonal skills. The whole process of the group is around listening, asking powerful questions, challenging constructively and holding each other to account. It is also about being able to cope with the challenge, being open to new ideas and committing and delivering for others as well as yourself.
A good group will have time and processes within the agenda to help members enhance these skills. Over time, members become highly skilled in these techniques and the group gains as a result. The best groups form long and lasting relationships between members and meeting up and socialising outside of the formal meeting increases this aspect.And don't forget that mastermind groups can be fun too!
If you'd like to learn more about referral marketing then do give me a call on 07970 638857 and let's have a chat and see how I can help you.