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Psychology of Mastermind Groups

Group of People Talking

By Karyn Greenstreet

In a mastermind group, it’s no surprise that group psychology can rear its ugly head. There’s good news, though — positive group psychological effects take place, too.

The Good

We think and act differently in groups than we do on our own. In a group, probably because of the psychology of social facilitation, we work better. It’s motivating to be part of a group, and a group can help us form and keep working towards goals.

Psychologists find that smaller groups work in a more cohesive manner. According to a study by Michael J. Saks, PhD., they studied the use of six-person juries versus twelve-person juries. In the end analysis, he indicates, “In smaller groups, members shared more equally in the discussion, found the deliberations more satisfying, and were more cohesive.”

The Bad

We do funny things in groups. Inter-group conflict can lessen trust and rapport unless there is a structured, conscious process to deal with disagreements. Collectively we may behave in ways that we never would on our own. If you find your group members simply cannot act cohesively, try this Jigsaw concept from schools. It works for adult groups, too. Never let a group conflict fester or ignore it. Bring it out into the open and discuss it among the group members, even if it’s awkward.

For instance, there is a social psychology phenomenon called Groupthink, where people modify their responses to a group discussion so as not to rock the boat. Yes, it creates harmony in a group, but in a mastermind group this can be deadly. As the group Facilitator, tell your members about this social phenomenon and assure them that each individual idea is important, even if it doesn’t match what the others are saying.

The Ugly

Social Loafing sounds ugly, doesn’t it? And it is. In large groups, each member feels less valuable and therefore puts in less effort. This is something, as the group Facilitator, you need to pay close attention to. Is everyone participating equally? Are they going deep with their discussions or glossing over the surface?

Consider that as a group grows in size, social loafing increases. It’s another reason why I encourage small group sizes for masterminding. Smaller groups allow for deeper discussions, and each person gets more time in the Hot Seat. Smaller groups also gives greater contact among the members, forging strong bonds and deep trust.

 

We can’t control group social behavior. But we can be aware of it and watch out for it in our own groups, then bring it back to the group for discussion.

 


2 thoughts on “Psychology of Mastermind Groups”

  1. George Mayers says:

    Yes, I have seen some of these things happen in my groups. I didn’t know they had a name for it.

    So, what do you do about it? How do you handle it, Karyn?

    Great article, thanks, looking forward to hearing your advice on taming my group. 🙂

    1. Y’know, George, I’m a big fan of bringing everything out into the open with a mastermind group. After all it’s the communication among the group that strengthens them. So if your group is acting in a way that you feel isn’t productive, just tell them what your observing and ask them if they are noticing it too — and ask them if the behavior is creating less success in the group. That will get them thinking and I’m sure you’ll see them modify their behavior.

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