Seek feedback and ideas from others in your field

Several years ago, I was asked to organize and lead a presentation on Mastermind groups at a chapter meeting of the National Speakers Association of Ohio in Columbus. There were about 80 people at the session including experienced speakers who had participated in Mastermind groups and new speakers hoping to join one.

A Mastermind group is a select number of people who gather on a regular basis to brainstorm, coach, or give feedback to one another on business practices and products. Most Mastermind groups meet several times a year in person. Others communicate by conference calls. I find the face-to-face meeting the most productive.

The value of this group is the collective wisdom of people whose businesses have similar struggles. By-products of such groups are the friendships, which blossom and deepen. However, it is important to maintain objectivity and commit to giving honest, respectful feedback to gain the most out of these groups. The typical size of a Mastermind group is no more than five to six people so that each person can get an adequate amount of attention.

A key aspect of the best Mastermind groups is accountability. Members must commit to appropriate business goals and attempt progress on those goals between meetings. At the meetings, successes and failures should be discussed and refits designed if necessary. As with every aspect of a Mastermind group, if the accountability structure fails, the group should modify it to be more productive. Experimentation on structure should be a part of every Mastermind group.

I shared with the session participants my business goals and accountability measures that I track on a daily basis such as articles distributed, sales calls made, hours spent writing, presentations made and books sold among others. I have twelve in all. I share them with my Mastermind group every other month and receive feedback on my progress.

Group members must be willing to ask for help and comprehensively share their knowledge and ideas to other group members. Detailed agendas must be developed and owned by all group members and distributed well in advance of Mastermind sessions. It can be helpful to design your next agenda at the end of each meeting.

I recommend that at the first Mastermind group meeting, the participants jointly create a set of expectations and behavioral Ground Rules to guide the actions of individual members. Expectations describe desired outcomes and Ground Rules describe the process of how you interact. Make sure every member agrees on all elements of both documents.

If any group member does not accept an element of the documents, modify the agreements to gain consensus. Have them prominently displayed at all meetings and refer to them as needed.

Every leader should be focused on personal, professional, and business improvement. It can be extremely helpful to seek feedback and ideas from other professionals in your field. I recommend that if you are not already in a Mastermind or similar group, you should seek four or five other people whom you respect and initiate one. You may experience quantum leaps in your outcomes and achievement of lifetime dreams.

R. Glenn Ray, Ph.D., is the president of RayCom Learning. To learn more about Ray’s completely revised, third printing of The Facilitative Leader: Behaviors that Enable Success, visit his Web site, or call him at 740-629-4536. Everyday Leadership appears each Wednesday on the Business page.