When your mastermind group members say to you, “I want you to hold my feet to the fire” — what are they really asking?
Many ex-members of mastermind groups tell me horror stories about their former mastermind groups. Their biggest complaint? No one got results from being in the group because there was no check-in or accountability structure in place (or the group Facilitator didn’t enforce it).
Clearly, what members are really asking for is help being responsible for achieving results.
Before we begin the discussion about holding a member accountable in a mastermind group, let’s face some facts: mastermind groups are not corporate work teams, and you’re not their boss or their leader. The accountability skills you might have learned and used in the workplace have very little to do with a mastermind group setting. So, forget what you know about employee-employer accountability and open your mind to accountability that takes place in a mastermind group setting.
Accountability in a mastermind group means that a member makes promises in front of the group that he will complete a certain set of tasks by a certain date. Then he reports that back to the group. The accountability, then, is the member fulfilling his promises to himself.
You don’t have many tools in your tool bag for truly holding members accountable like you would in a workplace. If a member doesn’t put in the effort and they’re consistently not achieving long-term and short-term goals, the worst “punishment” is that you fire a member from the mastermind group.
Let’s focus on how a mastermind group Facilitator holds members accountable.
To create success, ask members to design goals for which they’ll be held accountable.
Caution: do not try to impose suggested tasks and projects on them, or shame them into shooting for higher goals than they feel they can achieve. Yes, there’s a subset of mastermind group members who will set the task/project bar so low that they’re not really making any headway towards their goals. You can encourage them to challenge themselves, but you must do it out of curiosity (“I wonder if that’s a strong enough action plan for you, Susan, given that you want to achieve your goal in 90 days?”) instead of out of shame (“Susan, it sounds like you’re being lazy.”)
Let them create their own project and task plans, based on their resources — including available time in their calendar, people to delegate tasks to, the skills/knowledge necessary to get the job done, and the money to do so.
Help them to be crystal clear about what the goal truly is, and the exact tasks that need to be completed to reach that goal. Clarity on goals and tasks will help them determine the timeline for completing those tasks. Ask them to be specific:
Acknowledging member successes at achieving their goals is vital. If you’re going to publically ask them to set goals, then publically applaud them for reaching those goals. Recognizing the attainment of goals reinforces positive behavior.
We often fear the conflict of truly holding someone accountable when they have not met their promises. But a discussion about what they didn’t do isn’t intended to criticize or reprimand, but rather it’s an exploration into the causes and barriers (so that they can be fixed and perform better next time).
Get the member to take ownership and responsibility for their failure to get the task/project done:
Your members will model your behavior, so you need to be in integrity with your own action plans. If you promise to get something to them by a certain date and fail to do it, what message are you sending them? You have to show ruthless accountability for your own promises and your own success so that your members know they can trust you.
Our members are accountable when they achieve goals, and when they take responsibility for not achieving goals.
As Facilitators, our responsibility is to create a consistent structure in which the members can set and achieve goals. Some of your members may be go-getters and not need the accountability process, but nearly everyone likes to be acknowledged for having fulfilled their promises.