Leadership Perspectives

Power of the mastermind. Part 2, Selecting members

In a previous post, I talked about the concept of the Mastermind.  Masterminds are indeed powerful, but the right group of members is essential to achieve the synergy, commitment, and candor that makes great masterminds so effective.

Similar goals.  Years ago, without asking the rest of the group, a member brought a guest to a mastermind that I was involved in.  He really wanted the guest, a good friend of his, to become a member of the group.  The rest of us did not think that the prospective member was a good fit because he was in a different place than we were.  While we had immature but established businesses that we were intent on growing, the prospective member was a serial entrepreneur setting out to decide what his next venture would be.  It wasn’t a good match and while we wished him well, we could not feel the synergy.

So a mastermind might be about finding a business, growing a business, making a difference through philanthropy, finding balance, or anything else, but the group has to be clear on its common goals.

Commitment to the time required.  Life will always be busy, time will always seem short, and customers will always come first, but a mastermind simply cannot thrive and be beneficial to its members if every member does not show up to meetings and do what they’ve committed to do between meetings.  Groups will have to decide what is a valid reason for missing a meeting, but groups that are lenient do not typically survive.

Diverse but similar.  Members should bring a diversity of skills to the table but be alike enough to have the similar goals discussed above.

Some masterminds restrict membership to non-competitors; others are specific to a single industry, and completion is mitigated by geography.  There is no hard fast rule but a group should be one or the other: industry specific or industry exclusive.  If a group is industry specific, the group should have guidelines in place for potential competitive situations.

Most groups choose to be industry exclusive and not allow competitors to join.  In such groups, members should ideally have other commonalities.  For instance, members might be owners of companies that provide business services, CEOs of businesses of a particular size range, or executive directors of (diverse) social venture companies.

Commitment to openness.  Among the members of a mastermind, it’s no fair holding back.  When group members discuss their best practices regarding marketing or some other topic, commitment to openness dictates that members share what they’ve learned.  Someone who cannot trust and share will not be an asset to the mastermind.

While it’s never a good idea to have a policy of blurting out what one thinks in every circumstance, when a fellow member asks for help on a topic, members that are overly reticent or too worried about hurting someone’s feelings cannot fully honor their commitment to others’ growth.

The right number.  The number of people that you should have in your mastermind will depend on your agenda, what you want to accomplish at a meeting, and how long you want to meet.  Do you want to allow one member to discuss their problem or challenge or do you want to provide that opportunity to every member at every meeting?

For example, if you wanted to meet for about 2 hours, allow one or two people to present their business challenge at each meeting and have a short learning program, four to five members might be ideal.

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