No doubt about it—I love mastermind groups. I started one nearly 2 years ago and it’s been the biggest game changer for my business. While I’m a big advocate for masterminds, I also know they aren’t all built the same and some just plain suck.

My group is free, but many cost a small fortune to join. Whether you’re making a big financial commitment or just an investment of time, you want to be sure any mastermind group you join is worthwhile. But how do you know if a group is awesome or awful? Here are 5 surefire signs that point to the latter.

Look for these signs of a bad mastermind group before joining. Or if you’re already in a group, keep this list in mind when evaluating whether your group makes the grade.

 

1. Haphazard

A bad mastermind group accepts anyone and has no formal structure. It’s important to that members are chosen intentionally. That could mean everyone is at a similar stage of business, in non-competing industries, or serving similar demographics. It’s less important how people are selected than it is that there is a formal system for vetting to make sure everyone to make sure all members are of the same mindset. There should also be group guidelines in place that outline the group’s mission and structure so every member is on the same page.

2. Quiet

A bad mastermind group is filled with members who don’t show up or don’t contribute. A commitment to the group and the process is essential for a mastermind to really work. If only a few members do all of the asking and answering, the group is falling short of its full potential. Having a facilitator who monitors and encourages participation helps. Without someone in that role, it’s even more important to have rules on which everyone agrees from the start. It’s also a good idea for the group to routinely check in with itself about participation levels and address anyone who is falling short.

3. Distracted

A bad mastermind group has members who take but don’t give, who are just there to complain, or who turn the meetings into a social function. Vital to success of any mastermind is the free exchange of ideas among all its members, with everyone contributing as much as receiving. And while everyone has a bad day from time to time, the goal of a mastermind is to leave its members feeling excited and motivated, not depressed and dejected. If one or a few people are always bringing the group down, they should be asked to adjust their behaviors or leave the group. Finally, a common problem is groups that lose focus and drift into casual chats about social lives or TV shows. A mastermind should always remain focused on its members big-picture goals.

4. Stagnant

A bad mastermind group doesn’t focus on the success or trajectory of its members’ goals. Make sure your group has members set specific and actionable goals, and determine metrics for measuring outcomes. It’s also important to have frequent progress checks to see how well everyone is moving toward their expected outcomes. The goals can be small and metrics can be anything (they don’t have to be money); the point isn’t what they are but that they are established from the start and then monitored throughout the program.

5. Unaccountable

A bad mastermind group doesn’t take members to task. That’s too bad because one of the most beneficial aspects of a quality mastermind group is accountability. In addition to setting big-picture goals for their time in the mastermind, members should also commit to action steps between each meeting. When someone doesn’t do what they say or falls short of anticipated results, others should call them out (in a supportive way) and then offer to help them right their course.

Note: If you’re already in a mastermind or consider joining an existing one, read about the 5 signs of a bad mastermind to make sure it’s a great fit. Oh, and if you’ve never attended a mastermind retreat, check out the reasons I think you should consider it.

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