Julie and the others settled into their seats at a small conference table waiting for the meeting to begin. Julie is a small business owner and has been coming to these meetings for the past year. She looks around the room at the other business leaders she has come to know over the past year and can’t believe how lucky she has been to be part of this group.
“This meeting changed the way I am as a leader. For the better. My business is successful because of the suggestions and ideas I have gotten in this meeting. And let’s face it, without the accountability of this meeting, I would not be where I am today.”
About a year and a half ago, Julie was selected and joined a mastermind group. Although Julie had not heard of it until she joined the Mastermind Group, Masterminds have been around for hundreds of years. In 1727, Benjamin Franklin formed a group with twelve other tradespeople named the Junto. In early 1900’s Thomas Edison and Henry Ford started a group called The Vagabonds whose members included Harvey Firestone, John Burroughs, and Warren Harding. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Sherly Sandberg and others all participate in mastermind groups.
A Mastermind Group is a group of like-minded individuals who work together to help each other be successful. It provides a comfortable, confidential and challenging space where participants can discuss the issues most pressing to them. Their peers will ask deep clarifying questions to understand their challenges and then provide insight based on their experiences.
Mastermind can be formed around any topic that makes sense for the participants. As an executive coach, I use masterminds to help leaders within the small business community to improve their leadership. Other people use masterminds to support first-time parents, business owners, librarians, police officers, and even coaches*.
Each mastermind runs a little different but has some common traits. Most masterminds are small groups with no more than fifteen individuals in each mastermind. This size group allows each participant a chance to experience “the accountability seat” or “the hot seat” during each session. The accountability seat gives everyone an opportunity to share their challenge and listen to the perspective of other members as they ask curious questions and provide insights from their experience. At the end of a meeting, each member commits to some action that will help them overcome their challenge.
There is power in the mastermind as it provides a variety of perspective, increases accountability and fosters better outcomes for all the individuals involved. In one of my mastermind groups, it took only a couple meetings before; I started seeing improvement in the leadership skills of the participants.
As part of my mastermind groups, I offer individualized leadership coaching to all members if they are interested. I can help them create a plan of action and hold them to it between meetings. Most participants opt-in for this as they see the benefit of having a professional coach work through their problems with them.
The longer the tenure of the meeting the deeper the participants are willing to go to improve their outcomes. In time, friendships usually develop and become part of the process to help each other grow.
There are a few organizations who do this as a business including TAB (The Advisory Board), Vistage, and CEO Focus. Each organization has it is strengths and challenges, and I would suggest researching them before joining to make sure you have the one that fits you best. In the end, I decided to run my own because I believe that I could provide a different type of experience and wanted to reach a different kind of business owner.
John Thalheimer is the Executive Director of True Star Leadership. He has a fundamental belief that every organization and every employee deserves a great leader. Since early in his career John wanted to understand why some leaders were successful and others were not. Moreover, what he found surprised him. He earned his Master’s in Organizational Leadership and is dual certified in business coaching. John is working on his book titled, The Behavioral Algorithm, the secret formula for success. He currently runs masterminds in middle Tennessee and online to help leaders within the small business community succeed.
*If you are interested in learning more or interested in joining one of my mastermind groups, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also if you are a coach, please think about joining my coaching mastermind group, as the benefits will apply to you as well.