As a leader, you are constantly on the lookout for ways to grow your team. The better you focus your attention on getting the team to reach its collective goals, while helping each person reach their individual professional aspirations, the better you fare as a leader.

But you can't neglect your own personal development. If you want to continue to progress within your career, improve your leadership skills and technical abilities, you've got be intentional about getting what you need for your own growth.

Thankfully, there is a simple strategy that's been proven to work over eight decades that can help you grow significantly. It's all about assembling a mastermind group.

The concept was popularized by Napoleon Hill in his classic book Think and Grow Rich. Here's how he described the principle back in 1937:

The "Master Mind" may be defined as: "Coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose."

Hill was introduced to the idea of a mastermind by Andrew Carnegie years before. Carnegie attributed his personal board of advisors as being responsible for his fortune. In continuing to study successful people, Hill identified the use of the mastermind as the linchpin that fueled their significant growth. 

Analyze the record of any man who has accumulated a great fortune, and many of those who have accumulated modest fortunes, and you will find that they have either consciously, or unconsciously employed the "Master Mind" principle.

Successful people don't go it alone. You can go farther, faster when you have the right people by your side. Here's how to create your own board of advisors so you can start reaping the many benefits of it.

1. Find smart people you trust.

I'm a member of two mastermind groups. One is with a group of girlfriends I met when we all worked in marketing together at my old corporate job. We've been traveling together for ten years, but formalized our mastermind once we realized everyone had entrepreneurial goals we wanted to be intentional about helping each other achieve.

The other mastermind is with a group of ladies I met at a conference a few years ago. We all attended that conference multiple times and started to build deeper connections outside the event.

You probably already have a number of people in your network that would be perfect to start connecting with more formally so you can help each other reach your respective professional goals.

Enlist advisors who have areas of expertise or strengths that are different from your own, so you'll be able to add value to each other. 

2. Choose a format and structure that works for you.

One of the core tenets of an effective mastermind is that the group comes together regularly. So you've got to identify standard times to meet, and a structure that works well for the group to accomplish its goals.

I just returned home from a 3-day mastermind with one of my groups. We meet for a live session once a year and come together once a month virtually in between. And if someone in the group needs an impromptu session, we work it out in our schedules to make it happen.

When we have our live summit, we often travel for it, to ensure we're able to give each other our undivided attention. Going to a place away from our homes helps us minimize the distractions that can easily pop up from the outside world.

You can decide how formal or how casual your sessions are. For one mastermind, we sat around in matching pajamas while we tackled our business planning for the year. And for the other group, we took our meeting outdoors and met on the beach.

Make sure to give your group time to figure out the ideal environment that allows each of you to thrive.

3. Have a focused agenda.

To make sure the team is able to extract sufficient amount of value from your time together, it is helpful to have an agenda to make sure your objectives are met.

For my board of advisors meeting that's been running over a longer period of time, an agenda is sent out in advance of each session, so everyone knows what will be covered. This also helps everyone show up prepared. 

The agenda puts the group in the best position to add value so you can learn from each other, and sufficiently tackle any specific business challenges.

Smart leaders surround themselves with other smart people who help them grow. It's time for you to experience the synergistic power that can come from building and tapping into the collective expertise of your own personal board of advisors. 

Published on: Dec 21, 2017
The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of