By Christiaan Heijmen
Napoleon Hill first introduced the concept of the mastermind group in his classic book, “Think And Grow Rich.” He defined the group as two or more people who work in harmony to attain a purpose.
The benefit of belonging to a mastermind group is that you can use or borrow the experience, education, influence and maybe even the capital of others to accomplish your objectives. With problem-solving, brainstorming, inspiration and motivation as their primary goals, mastermind groups take individual members to higher levels of accomplishment and insight than what any could achieve on their own.
The executive team at any company can be a mastermind group if it functions properly (remember, Napoleon Hill specified working “in harmony”). But as a C-level executive, you should also consider the idea of a mastermind group of your peers, in which members come from non-competing industries.
Let’s say you’re a CEO, facing the same challenges and problems that other CEOs in other industries face. Seek them out. The reason behind this approach lies in protecting trade secrets from your competition. When your mastermind group is composed of CEOs from other industries, you do not have to worry about divulging trade secrets.
Invite five or six people to meet with you on a regular basis, even if it’s only a few times a year. It’s important that everyone in the group commits to these meetings and to the group process. Confidentiality is an absolute requirement. Sit down together, and ask these other CEOs for their advice about what you should be doing and how you can advance yourself and your company. Besides CEOs, maybe you can include a banker and an accountant in the group. Most people will be flattered when you ask them to participate in a mastermind group.
After you gain commitments from your chosen individuals, make sure that you do not waste anyone’s time. Be prepared with a set of topics or questions to discuss, and provide the agenda to everyone ahead of the scheduled meeting so that they have time to ponder their input and do research.
At the meeting, listen and take the suggestions of your mastermind group very seriously, and act on their advice. Nothing will happen unless you follow through. You must demonstrate to the group at the following meeting that you acted on their advice, and tell them the results.
Christiaan Heijmen is the managing director for executive search at Vaco Raleigh, LLC, where he is part of a team dedicated to building the company’s executive recruiting practice by developing relationships with senior executives throughout the Triangle.
Photo Credit: Flickr User Simon Blackley