10 Reasons Why Mastermind Groups Fail
The Success Alliance


10 Reasons Why Mastermind Groups Fail

Mastermind groups are an extraordinary way to help you accomplish success is your personal and business life. But I’ve seen too many mastermind groups fail, falling off the face of the Earth at an alarming rate.

Here are 10 of the most common reasons why mastermind groups fail:

  1. Members are not committed. They don’t show up for every meeting. They make excuses about why they didn’t achieve the actions and goals they set for themselves. They don’t pay attention during meetings and/or don’t participate fully.
  2. The Group Facilitator does not have a good handle on how to lead a group. They don’t know how to build trust and communication in a group environment. They’re not trained to keep group conversations going strong or how to go deeply into the core of a situation. They don’t know how to deal with difficult members or to keep energy levels high.
  3. The mastermind group is too large. The purpose of a mastermind group is that everyone gets a chance to bring their problem, decision or idea to the table, and that everyone gets to brainstorm with the person in the hot seat. If the group is too large, people get left out of discussions and feel disconnected from one another. Worse, they don’t get their problems solved and don’t make real progress toward their goals.
  4. There’s no mechanism for communication between meetings. Meetings typically range from 90 minutes to a full weekend. But what about all the time between meetings when life continues to happen?
  5. The Group Facilitator treats the mastermind group like a class, lecturing to the members or providing one-on-one advice in meetings, instead of encouraging all the members to function as a peer advisory board. If the majority of members never get a chance to share what they know, it’s not really a mastermind group.
  6. The members aren’t true peers. The Facilitator did not screen new members properly, so people come from a wide variety of backgrounds with no common goals or common problems to share. Worse, the Facilitator didn’t check for mindset compatibility, so some members bring down the energy of the group.
  7. The members fail to hold each other accountable. They don’t hold people’s feet to the fire and they allow members to make excuses about why something didn’t get done.
  8. The group doesn’t meet often enough. One of the benefits of a mastermind group is that each member selects a goal or action item to be completed by the next meeting. If the meetings are too far apart, all momentum is lost.
  9. The members’ experience level/success level ranges too widely. While having very successful people in a mastermind group is great for a new person, the more seasoned person will feel they’re not getting as much value from the group.
  10. The group members don’t feel safe in the group environment. People will not open up and talk about their problems and challenges if they fear ridicule or rejection. They also will not open up if they feel their competitors are in the same room, listening to their problems or stealing their best ideas.

Don’t let your mastermind group sink into obscurity. A little bit of planning and education will allow your group to prosper and thrive, benefitting everyone.

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.

13 thoughts on “10 Reasons Why Mastermind Groups Fail”

  1. Jessica Chapman says:

    What an excellent list! I have been in my group for 7 years and at the end of each session we evaluate the process for improvement. It’s the process we use that keeps us all coming back and giving our energy. My business would not be where it is without the group.

    Jessica Chapman, Founder of Room To Breathe

    1. I think that’s an excellent idea, Jessica! It’s so important for the group to give feedback to each other on how they feel they’re doing AS A GROUP. 🙂

  2. Pacaw says:

    This explains a lot, Karyn. We had a group that ran for a few month then just disintegrated. There were 12 of us in the group, but no formal facilitator to hold it all together. I’d like to create a mastermind group again, but with maybe six people or so. I’d run the group myself but I’m not sure that I have the skill.

  3. Karyn Greenstreet says:

    I’d say your group size was too big, Pacaw. It’s hard for everyone in a group that size to have any kind of meaningful brainstorming in the Hot Seat in each meeting. You don’t say how often your group met, but since most groups meet every other week or once a month, that might have been part of the problem. A group of six provides much more value to each member than a group of 12.

    Depending on the makeup of the group, you might not need an official facilitator. But most groups are served well by someone who knows how to hold the group together, how to keep conversations going (and make them deeper and more meaningful), and has the responsibility for holding individual members accountable to taking action and achieving results. So a trained mastermind group facilitator probably could have helped your group (though, as I said, 12 is a large group).

    You can learn how to be a Facilitator, Pacaw, if you have an attraction to running mastermind groups and you enjoy working with people in that type of brainstorming and accountability format. My next training class for Facilitators begins in February:


    Best of luck to you with your groups! Don’t be dismayed if a group didn’t work out…try it again. 🙂

  4. Ronnie Dunetz says:

    Nice list, Karyn, I would add a few more:

    The group does not develop the authenticity that is really required to make things move on values such as listening, supporting, ego-outside the door.

    The facilitator forget that it is his-her job to raise questions that are refelective and have depth, not a lot of this “Do this/don’t do that”

    The group lacks a feeling of “getting out of the comfort zone” which is essential.

    Lack of discipline: come late, leave early, stick their faces in the smartphone instead of being there for others.

    1. Karyn Greenstreet says:

      These are excellent additions, Ronnie! Thanks for posting them. So many of these are related to how the Facilitator works with the group.

  5. Michelle Spalding says:

    Excellent!! ~ As a facilitator of several mastermind groups I concur, smaller is better, with committed members of course. I’ve see many marketers promoting mastermind groups and it’s just them speaking to a group. Sounds like group coaching and while beneficial not at all the same as a group of committed individuals working on helping each other succeed. Thanks, Karyn for another great article.

    1. Karyn Greenstreet says:

      I wonder Michelle…if they’re just speaking to a group, isn’t that “training?”

      I know there are no hard-and-fast definitions, but here’s my take on it:

      1. Training is the teacher talking to the group and the group listening. Occasionally there is discussion, but the primary focus is on the teacher and the content being shared by the teacher.

      2. Group coaching is the coach working with one individual at a time, while the others watch. Coaching (at least, according to the ICF) is not about teaching or advice-giving; it’s about helping the client find their own answers and make their own decisions. When I learned “group coaching” at CoachU, there was no group brainstorming…all interaction was between the coach and one individual at a time.

      3. Masterminding is the GROUP talking to teach other, brainstorming, advice-giving, asking questions, holding each other accountable. The Facilitator is not the main focus of the conversation…the GROUP CONVERSATION is the main focus. (It’s not that the Facilitator can’t talk during meetings, but they should be the last to speak, not the first. Their job is to encourage group discussion and helping the group coaching each other.)

      So, those are my definitions, and I’m sticking with ’em. LOL!

  6. Justin says:

    This is a great article. Thanks very much!

    One issue I’m running into is “freshness.” I could almost see this being a number 11 on your list. As the group meets over an extended period of time, I have seen things fall into a rut.

    Do you have any recommendations? Does it make sense to switch members up, for example? We currently run a fairly tight nit group of three, and have seen great results. The enthusiasm though, has waned a bit.

    Jessica, how’d you keep your group going and productive for 7 years?!

    1. Karyn Greenstreet says:

      Justin, maybe the enthusiasm has waned because the group has achieved it’s purpose? Check out this article: https://www.thesuccessalliance.com/blog/when-is-it-time-to-leave-your-mastermind-group/

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