When it comes to solving problems, we all know that two heads are better than one. Two brains puzzling over an issue are often going to generate two times the number of solutions.

What if we took this idea and applied it on a larger scale? Do you think your business could benefit from the collective ideas gleaned from individuals at other companies? What if you had access to a group of people who are committed to improving their businesses together?

A common trait found in highly successful people is their belief in the power of working with, and engaging in, small groups. They form partnerships that are intentionally designed to navigate through issues using the collaborative intelligence of others. Successful leaders know that relationships and connections with others can spur great changes. They see the sharing of knowledge and opinions as an opportunity to challenge themselves and their peers.

A few notable individuals who have been part of small, powerful, partnered groups include Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Walt Disney. These pioneers understood that large-scale transformations often begin with small-scale collaboration. A small group can be an agent for individual and organizational change when people are willing to invest themselves in positive outcomes.

Investing your time and energy toward a common goal and purpose with trusted comrades will always impact your development as a leader. You can then, in turn, help develop those around you.

Forming a group or partnership requires careful consideration. Follow these steps to find the right mix of people:

  1. Identify 5-7 people who you respect and aspire to be like. Look for people whose values align with your own. Make sure these people aren’t your mirror image– look for those with complementary skills. Think about members within a professional group you belong to; consider people you see as leaders within your community. 
  1. Be open and honest as you explain your motivation and desire to grow as a leader; explain how you’d like them to join a small, like-minded group. The partnership should be mutually beneficial for all involved. Motivations may differ, but all parties must benefit if the group is going to last.
  1. Set group expectations early. People will enjoy participating in the group more if they feel all members contribute equally. Explore the possibilities within the group while seeking to give of yourself to others.

An ideal partnership or group meets regularly via phone, Skype, or in-person gatherings. Your focus should be to work on issues and hold each other accountable to goals that have been set. Members are there to advise, support each other, share wisdom and ideas, solve challenges, and create new opportunities.

This connection with like-minded, growth-oriented individuals creates a collective roadmap toward success for members. If you’re not in the same industry as those within your small group, don’t worry– getting insights from people who aren’t part of your day-to-day business can provide new and unexpected ideas.

Once connected with a group, you’ll no longer have the feeling of being alone in running your business; you’ll be continually working alongside others who experience similar challenges and successes in their daily lives. You’ll also be exponentially expanding your network through the connections of everyone within the group, which will help you to build your own intentional community over time.

Staying motivated toward achieving your goals can sometimes be difficult on your own. With the help of others, you’ll find you have renewed energy and motivation. Plus, it’s a lot harder to make excuses for not hitting goals within a group of trusted allies where accountability is a top priority. You’ll expand your beliefs about what your organization is capable of and have the potential to achieve your goals more quickly.

To be effective in your group, it’s important to tell the truth and be open to receiving observations from others. For example, in my own small group, I’ve had others tell me that I’m thinking too small. I’ve been told I’m over-committing myself; I’ve also heard that I’m spending too much time in the business rather than on the business. Sometimes shared observations can be hard to hear, but I urge you to try. The gains to be had for your business through collaboration are worth the effort.

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