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5 Key Ingredients for Exceptional Business Mastermind Groups

mastermind group symbol, many mindsOne would think that the collective intelligence of a group of peers should always yield superior results, but we all know this isn’t the case.  Besides Congress, an easy target, dysfunctional groups abound.  The NFL in 2011 almost torpedoed the greatest sports cash cow this country has ever seen.  Simply assembling a group of individuals is NOT a recipe for Mastermind Group success.

So what are the key ingredients for Mastermind Alliances to become exceptional?


Every successful Mastermind Group has a successful leader, often called a facilitator, who helps to steer things, establish process and protocol, set agendas, provide vision, and individually coach members outside of the group arena.  Most Mastermind Groups form with 3rd party facilitators, what members pay for, whose sole mission is the functioning of the group and not growing his or her own business, although he or she may have one.  Depending on the size of the group, usually no more than 12-15 member companies, a member leader may emerge in any group environment.  This person complements the facilitator with the collective voice of the group.  The most exceptional Mastermind Groups mature to the point where the facilitator directs meetings of the group and focuses on function, interchange, and private counsel while the group dictates agenda, goals, self-charter and policing of members for contribution and commitment.

Diversity of Members

The whole point of mining collective intelligence is that it provides different perspectives and experiences than that of any individual member.  Great Mastermind Groups make a point to mix membership from a variety of different industry verticals surrounding the like function of having top responsibility for the company.  Competitors cannot be allowed without specific waivers because it will contribute to the dis-function and reticence of individual members and the group will suffer.   If you research world business history, many of the most groundbreaking achievements in a given industry stemmed from influences outside that industry that could bring fresh perspective, not clouded by the poison knowledge of what cannot be done.   This applies to the group facilitator as well.  The more diverse the background, leadership roles held, industries touched, and companies worked for the better.  This will nearly always trump the Harvard MBA who has spent 20 years in one company with one job.

Member Commitment & Activity

A great group is an active group with no wallflowers.  Every member finds her own voice and best talent for contributing to the group and solving other member issues.  Members commit to the process, their own development, and the transcendence of the group into a productive entity.  They seek out opportunities to contribute to group activities instead of hiding beneath their desks, with too many volunteers being the success problem the facilitator must deal with.  High-functioning groups police against member commitment and can vote to cull their ranks of those members simply along for the ride without sufficient dedication and contribution.  Group meeting sessions are agreed upon in advance and mandatory for members to attend and participate.

Advanced Mastermind Groups also are continually striving to better themselves with high-performing members, and as such, each member of the group often serves as an evangelist and enthusiastic recruiter of others in his or her business circle that would improve the overall makeup of the group.

Hi-Value Opportunities

Participation in a Mastermind Alliance costs real money.  In exchange for that members need to receive minimally double the value in opportunities and results.  This applies to education where the knowledge applied far outweighs the financial investment, individual coaching that leads to actions on the part of the member that drive high revenues, and group interactions and relationships that can have direct and indirect value as seen by the member.  Any organized Mastermind Group must be affordably priced so it isn’t a barrier to entry, yet still provides the financing to run the group with skilled facilitators, technology and other resources to ensure successful experiences.  Cost of entry versus perceived value is often the reason more business executives and owners are NOT involved with any type of Mastermind Alliance.

Typical business Mastermind Groups sponsored by large organizations can require a 5 figure plus annual investment for members.  This can eclipse the budget of willing but cash-strapped small businesses or entrepreneurial firms, each of which has the capacity for massive growth and development in the Mastermind setting.  Virtual-Mastermind.com has developed a model that is FAR more reasonable for members to limit this barrier to entry.

Ease of Participation

The biggest barrier to participation in Mastermind Groups is not financial.  It is the luxury of time.  The sacrifice of time, as in time away from the hectic, demanding office while working on the business with the group, tends to keep dynamic business owners and CEOs away from Mastermind involvement.  This time can be multiplied by travel time.  For example, groups started by Vistage International must be located near a major metropolitan area in order to justify a given market penetration.  That often adds 2-4 hours of drive time to an already long day away from the office, and can turn what should be a pleasurable, valuable experience into one that has the pain of inconvenience associated with it.  That’s counter-productive.  The best Mastermind Groups find ways to bridge gaps such as this, removing pain and guilt of involvement for members and leveraging time to provide terrific value in comfortable settings.

Your Small Business Mastermind Group

If you’re thinking of participating or even staring a Mastermind Group, make sure that you care for the 5 key ingredients:   strong, broad-based leadership; member diversity; member commitment; providing hi-value opportunities; and making it easy to participate for as many qualified business leaders as your group desires.

There is a 6th Key Ingredient.  Only you know what it is.  Post your Mastermind or Peer Executive Group success recipe, or failure formula, below.

mastermind groups, virtual mastermind, small business mastermind groups

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One Comment

  1. Paul Strodike September 2, 2011 at 6:19 am #

    I find this article very interesting and would like to add some other perspective in group dynamics.
    It seems to be a fact that people think and address problem solving based on the dominant part of the brain i.e LB = number and facts, LF = system orientation, RF = person focussed and RB = “big picture perspective”.

    I have encountered this 1st hand that this is a dynamic that works well when all those dynamics are present and much will be accomplished together with a “leader”. The leader should be a big perspective thinker.

Reply to Paul Strodike