By Karyn Greenstreet
People always ask me: Is it a true mastermind group if people don’t get to be in the Hot Seat at every meeting?
I believe the key indicator of a “true mastermind group” is that each person gets to be in the Hot Seat at every meeting (or every other meeting) and the entire group masterminds/brainstorms with that person.
In some groups, especially very large ones, it’s more like a group coaching program than a mastermind group: one person is in the Hot Seat, the mentor/coach does laser coaching with that person, and all the other people sit silently and observe. In a true mastermind group, everyone gets involved in the conversation. That’s the power of peer brainstorming!
When the member gets to pose his problem or question, it forces him to gain clarity about what help he’s really asking for. Then, having a small group of people brainstorm around that problem/question brings huge amount of creativity to the process. The person in the Hot Seat walks away with many more ideas and solutions than he could generate on his own. That’s why people come to mastermind groups.
Imagine that you have one meeting a month, but your group is so large that only half can be in the Hot Seat each month. That means each member gets a turn every two months. I can’t see how they’d find enough value to pay for a group where they’re only getting in the Hot Seat every other month. (In this case, consider running your group every 2 weeks so that members of a large group can get in the Hot Seat more often during the month.)
It’s true: there’s lots of value that members get from listening to all the ideas and solutions generated for others. I often watch a table full of group members furiously taking notes during someone else’s Hot Seat. But those ideas are tangental to their own personal situation.
Listening to someone else’s Hot Seat is like standing under an apple tree and hoping an apple will fall just when you want one. Being in the Hot Seat is like climbing a ladder and plucking an apple — just the right apple — when it’s the perfect time to eat an apple.
One solution is to reduce the time for each Hot Seat. I’ve seen people get a lot of value out of 10 minute Hot Seats. The trick is for the person in the Hot Seat to take one a minute or two to describe his situation. Otherwise, too much time is taken talking about the challenge or need, and not enough time is spent brainstorming ideas.
It’s not masterminding if there’s no peer brainstorming in every meeting. Otherwise it’s really group coaching, or a combo of group coaching plus training, that’s being called a mastermind group.