Do Mastermind Group Members Need to be in the Hot Seat Every Time?
The Success Alliance


Do Mastermind Group Members Need to be in the Hot Seat Every Time?

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 regularly gets to be in the Hot Seat and the entire group brainstorms with that person. That means each member is in the Hot Seat in every meeting or every other meeting.

Some facilitators want to scale their mastermind group business and cut corners by making members wait months to get in the Hot Seat. Or they call it a mastermind group but conduct it like group coaching or a Q+A session.

The strongest value a member gets out of a mastermind group is the chance to be in the Hot Seat

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 tons of creativity to the process, yielding innovative solutions and insights. The member in the Hot Seat walks away with many more ideas and solutions than he could generate on his own. That is why people come to mastermind groups.

Imagine that you have one meeting a month, but your group is so large that only one-third can be in the Hot Seat each month. That means each member gets a turn every three 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 three months. (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.)

Want to learn how to start a mastermind group? Click here to get my free video tutorial on how to create a mastermind group of your own.

Is listening enough?

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. Remember, the members of a mastermind group are peers and often have similar situations. One member’s Hot Seat can be helpful to others in the group.

But…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.

What about shorter Hot Seats?

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 members to be concise — the person in the Hot Seat can only take one or two minutes to describe his situation. Otherwise, too much time is taken talking about the challenge or need, and not enough time is spent brainstorming ideas.

Super-short Hot Seats are problematic for several reasons:

  • The person in the Hot Seat cannot fully explain his situation. This leads to misunderstandings about the help he’s seeking.
  • The other members can share the main concept of their idea or solution, but they can’t get to the details. It’s frustrating for everyone to get a taste but not the full meal!
  • People aren’t always skilled at delivering concise ideas. Unless you prep the group well, members are going to think on their feet, which means they need time to talk through their solutions. (And you always have the dreaded problem of people who talk too much.)
  • There’s no room for discussion, for broadening ideas or deep-diving into topics.
  • Some members might not be able to participate because you run out of time. One of the values of membership is to be able to help the other members.

Because of these drawbacks, I find these short Hot Seats do more harm than good and should be used sparingly or in another setting, like a Jam Session.

The challenge of scalability

Some of my clients want to scale their mastermind group business and have many people in their group. But if you have 20 or 40 people in a group, it brings up logistic problems and can limit true masterminding and brainstorming discussions.

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!

It’s not masterminding if there’s no peer brainstorming in every meeting. Otherwise, it’s really group coaching or just a question and answer session (Q+A), that’s being called a mastermind group.

Overall, my best advice is to design your mastermind group so that members get to rotate through the Hot Seat as often as possible. It might mean you need to re-think your group design!

Want to learn how to start a mastermind group? Click here to get my free video tutorial on how to create a mastermind group of your own.

19 thoughts on “Do Mastermind Group Members Need to be in the Hot Seat Every Time?”

  1. Brian Sharp says:

    Great post Karyn. We’ve been struggling with this issue and trying new formats for our group. I think this may have sparked a new idea. Thanks!

    1. Karyn Greenstreet says:

      Be as creative as possible in forming and running your mastermind group, Brian. There are no “mastermind group police” to tell you what to do! 🙂

  2. Tanai M Goldwire says:

    this was a great article. I never really understood the difference between a group coaching program and a mastermind group. I also now understand the value of a mastermind group. Thank you for writing that it helped.

    1. Karyn Greenstreet says:

      Hi, Tanai,

      I’m glad you liked the article. If you’re looking for more info on group coaching versus mastermind groups, listen to the interview I did on The Coaching Show all about coaching vs. mastermind groups:

  3. Tanai M Goldwire says:

    Thank you so much I will be listening to your recording this weekend!

  4. Andreas Jones says:

    Very well explained.. thanks for sharing it.

  5. Laura Dodson says:

    I’ve found a good deal of value listening to others talking about their challenges. I might be one of the people taking notes in the background!

    1. Karyn Greenstreet says:

      Me, too, Laura! 🙂

  6. Brenda Bomgardner says:

    Karyn, this is one of my favorite articles you have written. Currently, I facilitate coaching groups and accountability is a huge part of the success for individual members. I have had a desire to facilitate a master mind group and your tips in this article have helped my move my commitment level to offering a master mind group next year.

    You may have already written about this – but what is the ideal number for a group and in your opinion how often should a group meet for maximum benefit?

    1. Karyn Greenstreet says:

      Hi, Brenda,

      I’m glad to hear you’ll be doing groups next year! Here’s an article I wrote about ideal group size:

      I think a group needs to meet at least quarterly (for a full day) or monthly (for a few hours) to get the maximum benefit from the group. Much of this decision depends on the needs of the group, of course. Some meet weekly! 🙂

  7. J.R. Russell says:

    I agree that it’s not a Mastermind without a Hot Seat for all with the entire group collaborating. There are far too many groups claiming to be Mastermind Groups that only serve to dilute the Mastermind “brand” and confuse the little public awareness that exists today for Mastermind Groups.

    1. Karyn Greenstreet says:

      It is confusing, isn’t it, J.R.?

  8. Benay says:

    Wonderful clarity Karyn – thank you for so generously sharing your expertise with the coaching community and beyond! – B

    1. Karyn Greenstreet says:

      Thanks, Benay, I’m happy to help you and to spread the word about the value of mastermind groups!

  9. Dominique Miller Osborn says:

    Hi Karyn, It is a shame that the name of the ‘mastermind’ is being used for ‘group coaching’ as it is such a different process to work on your own stuff with peer feedback vs gaining insight from others getting coached. Thankyou for bringing to light this difference. They hold different value and it would be great if people could sell their biz programs with the accurate title! Cheers, Dominique

    1. Karyn Greenstreet says:

      I wish more people understood the difference between a real mastermind group and group coaching, Dominique. There’s some cross-over, but many distinct differences and a wide range of benefits. We wrote a free ebook on how to find the right mastermind group, and we discuss in the ebook about the differences between mastermind groups and group coaching:

  10. Dominique Miller Osborn says:

    To complete.. Both coaching groups and mastermind groups offer great value. I am just saying that they are somewhat distinct. : )

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