Extraordinary Team Blog

Like Minds May Not Always Think Alike, but They Can Learn to Agree

Posted by Kristin Arnold on July 2, 2008

Napoleon Hill coined the concept of the mastermind alliance in his classic book, “Think and Grow Rich.”  He believed that a group of like-minded, achievement-oriented individuals could dramatically leverage each other’s success.  It’s all about creating the synergy of like-minded professionals to have a safe place to celebrate success, solve pressing issues, offer support and encouragement, unleash creativity, gain valuable insights and expand and grow their businesses.

Mark Sanborn is an international speaker on leadership and teamwork, and he suggests the following guidelines to pursue a meeting of the minds:

Find the Right Mix.  Find great people with complimentary businesses, functions, positions with similar career levels and shared values.  The diversity of the group is a strength, and everyone should have something of value to bring to the group.  Mark warns that “too much disparity between experience levels, however, can hamper the sharing of ideas.”

Agree on Purpose.  Each member should share his or her own “What’s In It For Me” (WIIFM) for participating in the group.  Be very clear on what you are trying to accomplish;  generate leads, provide support, offer advice, encourage each other, etc.

Establish Ground Rules.  Agree on the administrivia that can drive teams crazy, e.g., meeting time, length, attendance and other fundamental beliefs to support the effective functioning of the team.  Melanie Mills, another national speaker from Indiana, phrased this aspect so well when she said, “Establish guidelines for how you operate with each other, like not putting down other members, a solutions-orientation versus a problem-orientation, sharing time so nobody dominates, confidentiality, and mutual respect.  This is probably the most important step, as it creates the atmosphere for you to operate in.  I would keep them simple but clear.”

Agree on Format.  Determine location, time and agenda.  Most Masterminds start with an update from each member.  That time can be used to share good news, ask questions, solve problems, etc.  Then the meetings usually move into a specific topic area (agreed to ahead of time) and each team member brings ideas, best practices, resources, suggestions, article reprints, book recommendations, etc.  The meeting usually concludes with a commitment to each other on what each member will do in between sessions.

Select a Coordinator.  One person needs to coordinate schedules and meeting logistics.  This position can be permanent or rotated between team members.

Use a Facilitator.  Make sure that each meeting has a designated facilitator (a Mastermind member or an external facilitator) to keep the process moving, ensure balanced participation and move actions forward.

Keep Checking.  All Mastermind groups evolve into new formats and mixes of people.  Periodically, check the “pulse” of the team by reinforcing what’s working well and what can be “upgraded.”  Mark assures us that it’s OK to “revisit your purposes, goals and time commitments frequently, so you can address whether adjustments should be made.”

Question:  If you are a member of a Mastermind group, what is your key to success?