Leadership Perspectives

Power of the mastermind. Part 1

August 8, 2012

A small group of colleagues and I meet on a monthly basis to talk about our businesses, share advice, set goals, and hold one-another accountable.  We represent different industries but we all have things in common; we own businesses and we want to continue to grow those businesses in alignment with our values.

To this end, we combined our efforts to create a mastermind.

Napoleon Hill first wrote about the power of the mastermind.  In fact, he devoted an entire chapter to the concept in his best-selling 1937 book “Think and Grow Rich.”  Hill defined a mastermind as “coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.”  Hill went so far as to say that, “No individual may have great power without availing himself of the Master Mind.”

That’s a pretty heady statement, but then masterminds are powerful.  Comparing the brain to an electric battery, Hill explains that just as multiple batteries provide more energy than single batteries, the same is true of brains.  The beauty of the concept is that all of the energy created by an alliance of brains is available to each of the brains.

What a mastermind does.

A group of committed members (commitment is key here) meets on a regular basis, either in person or by telephone.  There’s no set frequency but my group meets monthly.  Each group runs a little differently but here’s some common agenda items:

Group Learning.  Masterminds will often tackle learning issues that are of benefit to the entire group, either by sharing and discussing best practices, having one member who is an expert present on a topic, or by inviting a guest speaker.

Individual member issues.  Time is often reserved for one or more members to present a business challenge or problem and to seek advice, mentoring, or coaching from other members.  This is effective even if other members don’t have specific industry knowledge – just knowing how to ask good questions (the essence of coaching) can stimulate someone to look at a situation differently or even find their own answers.

Goal setting and follow up.  Accountability is a huge benefit of masterminds. Members challenge one another to set meaningful goals.  Many members report that knowing that they will have to report to their group helps them break through procrastination and gives them the inspiration to “do the hard stuff.”

Share resources.  A mastermind is a great place to learn about books, technology, websites, or new products that others have found valuable.  Some masterminds build resource-sharing time into each agenda and ask every member to bring a resource to every meeting.  Others are more casual about it.

Essential elements of effective masterminds:

1.     Committed members

2.     Confidentiality

3.     Commitment to one another’s development

4.     Openness

5.     Agreement about new members

Most all of these elements speak for themselves except for the last one.  Each member must be able to truly welcome any potential new addition to the group because without this provision, the first four essential elements simply cannot be achieved.

In part 2, I’ll talk about how to decide on members for your group.

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