Master Your Business Through Mastermind Groups
As published in the Birmingham Business Journal.
Great minds don’t always think alike. That’s why leaders and executives turn to mastermind groups – a growing business phenomenon attracting successful professionals who seek objective advice, motivation, group synergy and different perspectives to accomplish their most important goals.
It’s easy to feel isolated in a leadership role. The higher you rank within an organization, the less objective feedback you receive, the more difficult it is to find peers who understand your challenges and issues.
As a former executive in a large organization, I had a sense of isolation based, not only on my leadership rank, but on geography. As part of a small regional office, I had a limited peer network. Now, as an entrepreneur, I have similar needs.
Mastermind groups provide a means for leaders to connect with other like-minded individuals who contribute ideas and feedback to help them grow their business and manage their lives.
Business and Executive Mastermind Groups operate as small think tanks and allow members to come together in small groups (typically 6-10 people) to share challenges, successes, ideas and information in a confidential environment.
Mastermind groups exist in many different forms, yet serve similar purposes. Groups may be known also as coaching groups, study groups, accountability groups or peer groups.
Members report many benefits including:
- Better decision making and problem-solving
- Accelerated business growth
- Increased personal effectiveness
- Smarter strategic thinking
- Increased accountability
- Safe and nonjudgmental place to discuss challenges
- Expanded professional network
- Improved life/work balance
Mastermind groups may be structured a variety of ways. Some are professionally facilitated; others are self-organized. Groups may be global, national or local.
Some mastermind groups meet in person; others meet virtually – by telephone. Virtual groups are especially time and cost effective.
Guidelines vary according to each group. The agenda is largely determined by the needs and goals of the members. Group members may also engage in one-on-one coaching to supplement their group experience for a more in-depth focus on their goals.
Generally groups meet once or twice a month. However, some national groups meet quarterly. Virtual groups meet more frequently. The life cycle of a group varies with some of the most successful groups spanning a number of years.
Types of Mastermind Groups include:
Independent Mastermind Groups: These are groups comprised of executives from diverse and non-competing industries. The common element is that members serve a similar role. For example, a CEO Mastermind Group (or CEO Peer Group) attracts business owners and managing partners. Other examples include groups for executive women or family owned businesses. Independent mastermind groups may be structured by topic or interests such as groups for sales professionals or groups for those who want to proactively manage their careers.
Industry Specific Mastermind Groups: These are groups of professionals who represent the same industry such as financial services, health care, real estate or professional speaking. Members play a similar role within the same industry. Some industry specific mastermind groups may be established through professional associations.
Corporate Mastermind Groups: These are groups formed within organizations. They typically involve members who serve a similar role. For example, managers from different divisions may come together to discuss common needs, goals or issues. A corporate mastermind group may be established as a part of a leadership development initiative. Such a group strengthens leadership, decision making and problem solving skills while helping leaders expand their professional network. Virtual mastermind groups are ideal for global organizations. Such groups can positively affect morale and employee retention.
What it’s not…
- A Mastermind Group should not be confused with a leads group. Acquiring leads is not a primary purpose of the group; however, leads may be exchanged based on the relationships formed in the group.
- A Mastermind Group is not a training class. Members may learn new information or skills through discussion; however, the group is not dependent on any one person’s expertise. The format is highly facilitated.
- A Mastermind Group is not group therapy, although some meetings may produce therapeutic results.
Best candidates for Mastermind Groups have the following qualities:
- Strong motivation
- Success in a particular field or role
- Openness to different perspectives and feedback
- Positive outlook/optimistic
- Commitment to the group
- High level of trust
- Like to have fun and be challenged
At first glance it may seem as though a managing partner in an accounting firm, a law firm, an engineering firm, an architecture firm and a financial services organization have little in common. However, they’re all dealing with similar challenges and they’re all members of the same group.
Successful executives understand the importance of connecting with others outside their natural network who can offer objective perspective. The best groups are not only diverse in industry, but represent different behavioral styles and personality types. Members are not only committed to their own personal excellence, but to the success of others.
Small businesses are well suited to take advantage of mastermind groups. With the growing number of individuals starting and running small businesses, the need to connect with other peers is even greater. “Micro businesses,” those operated by one person with a couple of employees, and home based businesses are especially well served through mastermind groups.
Great minds may not always think alike, but that’s good news for those in mastermind groups. More people are finding mastermind groups to be instrumental to their success in business as well as to their growth as human beings. Business professionals looking for an innovative and effective approach to growing themselves and their businesses should consider starting or joining a mastermind.
Gayle Lantz is a Certified Business Coach and professional facilitator for CEO and Executive Peer Groups. She is the creator of Mastermind Groups Quick Launch Kit