My friend and a past client called me on a windy, rainy, cold Thursday afternoon. The weather that day was chaotic. As we talked, the wind thrashed at the trees and rattled the windows. They explained how they were determined to sell the business and realise its value. They had appointed their new senior leaders, expert people in distinct roles, but the challenge was that none of them saw the bigger picture; they were independently pursuing their goals and sometimes blocking each other. They were committed and diligent, with focused intentions aligned with those goals, yet frustrations were high, and solutions were absent. As I listened, I sensed the rain lashing harder, creating more noise and reducing vision.
I suggested that we separate them from the day-to-day and encourage collective thinking. Using a facilitated mastery group where they can meet regularly to share their experiences, learn from each other, and support one another in achieving their goals. Also, and notably, with one-to-one mentoring time, they each had a confidential space to explore those frustrations and learn from their mentor strategies for more effective working.
I was also keen to see how they worked together, how communications flowed, and where culture and practice overlapped or clashed. By taking these observations and critiquing the variety of approaches, I would be able to create a more open, listening, and culturally rich environment for them to explore their own and each other’s challenges.
Our facilitated mastery group would help the team develop their leadership, communication, and collaboration skills. Still, it will also foster personal and professional growth that benefits them in the business and their careers.
One aspect we discussed was how to make sure that the group stayed focused at the right level. That’s where the group facilitator is essential. A mastery group, when facilitated well, will remain focused on appropriate goals and objectives and will not get sidetracked by irrelevant discussions or topics. I see (too often) in unstructured groups that the urgent takes precedence over the important. For that reason, we talked about what was important in advance, and those elements would be a part of the purpose of forming a mastery group.
Accountability is vital; we discussed how, individually, this group of leaders needed to be held accountable for their collective endeavours and not just their effort. Through that we anticipated that they would generate an “esprit du corps” and gradually act in a more aligned way as one team.
Clarity and calmness.
I remember the day because as we discussed the challenge, I could sense the clarity in their thinking developing and, as if in tune with that, the rain first eased, then stopped and then the clouds cleared.
We went ahead. By working as a mastery group, they all offered diverse perspectives and insights that can help each other overcome obstacles. We saw all of them become much more creative at problem-solving because they understood what each person could bring to the solution. Moreover, the accountability and motivation provided by the mastery group and personal mentoring helped everyone stay focused and productive. Today they hold each other accountable for their work and each provides motivation to stay on track. Clarity and calmness are the enduring outcomes.
The business has been sold, with the team remaining in place for this next phase. We had a lot of fun, laughed a lot, and everyone stepped beyond their expertise to build better business.