By Martin Brossman & Mike Hopley

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What does it take to create a team of men to support each other’s mission in our lives? How do you get it going? What works in keeping it going? This write up is intended to give you some guidelines for building your own group based on over 9 years experience behind The Triangle Men’s Inquiry Group as well as studying other groups. Be open to what works for yourself and your potential group and maybe you will come up with new ideas in order to share the collective knowledge you may receive (we would love to hear from you). Also, this can be designed for creating a non-faith based men’s group (like the Men’s Inquiry group) or as a tool to build a faith-based group.  So, here is 10 tips of building a powerful men’s team: 

1.       Getting Started:

a)       Write up what you want the group to be about. (Try to zero in on your target market).

b)       What do I specifically want or need of our men's group?

c)       Often having a theme to focus (faith-based group or non faith-based group) is helpful.

d)       Start by knowing the possible format of the group. Do you want the format of the group to be facilitated (professionally led) or peer-lead (rotating leadership within the group)?

e)       Decide if you want it to be an open or closed group. Open any can show up, closed they have to get OK by group to come. Open keeps it fresh and closed lets you have a chance to go deeper.

f)         What resources would be helpful to promote your group or idea (should you place an ad in the community calendar in your local newspaper or in a local forum)?

g)       Can you find a free place to have it?

h)       Work on getting a core list of men together. (Know you may have to invite a lot to get a few) I invited a few hundred men, maybe 40 by phone or in person, to get 12 to the first meeting.

i)         Plan on meeting on a regular basis at a set time and place: Meeting every week, 2 weeks, or once a month, same place & time with a reminder system.

j)         Write down why you are the most qualified man to start this group and a list of men that you personally would benefit from being in such a group with.

k)       Having a team like structure with a focus that keeps the men authentic with each other is very important to keeping the group alive (recognizing the courage in conflict & room for moving through grief as well as dealing with shame).

l)         Think about designing systems to resolve conflicts, upsets, and issue between the members of the team (having a place for our anger as well as our tears).

m)     Outlining the commitments & also having clear agreements as the group forms

n)       Having a support for both inner work and outer work.

2.       Types of Groups

a)      Peer to Peer

Peer to peer groups are groups consisting of men who are roughly at the same level of maturity (or at least no one is set as the "mentor" of the others). This is called peer-to-peer mentoring.

b)      Mentor-Mentors

Here, a more mature man mentors a small group of men for a season. Could be exploring a men’s book. Six to twelve months are the likely time span of these groups, though a longer time period is possible. Using something to focus the support of the men going to a deeper level of trust (communication).

c)       Men’s Breakfast

Typical of these groups are monthly Saturday morning men's breakfasts or a monthly midweek study, where each month features a speaker or large group study on a particular topic, which then leaves the men with 3 weekly in depth group studies. The leader of the monthly activity may facilitate group formation, or it may be left up to the men. Having it around an activity like a “Breakfast” can bring the men together.

d) Service or Task Groups

These groups may start with a monthly service project or perhaps as a service team. The key is for the leader to have a vision of growth for the men, facilitating them to get together as peer-to-peer groups. The hope is that chemistry develops between the men as they serve together, they'll take that to a peer-to-peer group. Its focal point is often around doing some community service or ‘work’.

e) Sports Teams or Special Interest Groups

Really a variation on service groups, but with a recreational activity at its core. It could be a softball team or a mountain bike club, the idea is for the men to get comfortable enough with each other in order to form a peer to peer group (could also be a ‘topical’ discussion club). Maybe watching a movie each time the group meets that is related to men’s issues and then discussing it as a group.

f)  An Men’s Inquiry group or Team

Forming a group similar to The Triangle Men’s Inquiry Group created by Martin Brossman (one of the authors). The Triangle Men’s Inquiry Group is a group of men that focus on answering the question(s) posed to the group for that particular month. The question is designed to build a sense of connection as well as having fellowship to enhance ones’ life. This could be run as an open group or a closed group (the original one is an open group just to expose many men to the option of men’s work.)

3.       Contacting Potential Team Members

a)       The most important thing to do is to see you as a part of the group, a member of a team with a specific and important role to play.

b)       Contact men that have already participated in a men's group, access their wisdom and experiences, and let them contribute to your group.

c)       If you get burned out or overwhelmed realize that getting men to breakthrough their fears of connecting to each other is a challenge and should not look like a picnic.

d)       Be aware that if you do a direct mailing of 1000 cards an 85% response is unlikely (you might receive up to a 1% to 2% response).

e)       Getting the men together is about the same, the core issues that keep us apart are deep and goes up against core fears that gives us equally freedom when we break through them!

f)         Asking for volunteers does not work, trying to find good men that you think would be a contribution to the group and a benefit for them, and then asking them powerfully.

g)       Also sharing your vision for men's work and something you will get out of it helps.

h)       Putting yourself on the line makes you a better & stronger man! It also models emotional courage.

i)         Maybe your first core group of men needs to be men that would inspire you and that YOU want more of in your life will get you to be more of the man you want to be. And if you are a little intimidated of asking these men than they are THE RIGHT ones to ask!

j)         Allowing men to contribute to us is one of the greatest gifts we can give.

4.       Using the Internet & Library Resources

a)       Also, start reading some books on men's issues or how to start a men's group, such as A Circle of Men: The Original Manual for Men's Support Groups by Bill Kauth

b)       The Triangle Men's Inquiry Meeting web page: www.ToInquire.com. provides a lot of resources (including book listings and links to other web sites as well as information regarding the structure of The Triangle Men’s Inquiry Group itself).

c)       There are also resources available on the Internet from other websites related to men's issues that can be helpful. But most importantly, write down what you see is possible that the men can learn from the group and how their own life would be enhanced if they had a team of men REALLY supporting their life.

5.       Possible Group Topics to Discuss

a)      Faith-Based Groups

  •  Men’s Dinner (with a religious theme)

  •  Men’s Breakfast (with a possible bible study)

  •  Men’s Outing (possible get together whether or not of a religious nature)

b)      Non Faith-Based Groups

  • Discussion of men’s roles in the workplace

  • Discussions of men’s role in the home

  • Discussions regarding our social issues

  • Discussions on men’s health issues (e.g. prostate cancer, erectile disfunction, etc.)

c)       Some questions to ask in a similar Men’s Inquiry Group (Created by Martin Brossman)

      Each time I begin my group, I ask myself this question: "How can I really give myself away, and what can I share about myself that will encourage other men to speak honestly?”

  • “What does it mean to be a healthy mature man today?”

  •  "How resolving issues with your father gives you more freedom."

  •   “How do you resolve issues with your father when he is not available or doesn't seem to care?"

  •  “How do you see yourself as a man?”

  •  “How do you define a “male model?”

  •   “What is God's vision for a man?”

  •  “What is a man’s role?”


6.       What is the payoff (or mission statement) for you in creating the group? 

To create a better understanding of the world of men as well as my role as a man.  We often learn the most of that what I teach.  You will become a better role model to younger men. It’s great for your life!

7.       Keeping it “real” and Keeping the space “safe & open”

To me two forces or drifts have to be counteracted in an ongoing group:

a)       One is dealing with the fact that misunderstandings and issues are going to come up between the men over time and if not dealt with they will grow and spread through out the group. You need methods of on-going open communication between the men in order to resolve issues that build up in the group.

b)       A desire to get “comfortable” in a resigned way. Something needs to be built to renew the group as on-going entity.

c)       Realize if the group gets weak enough it can powerfully end the group.

8.       Possible Pitfalls

a)       I think one of the greatest pitfalls in any group is over-emphasizing that something outside of us is the sole cause of a problem that can make us into “helpless" victims.

b)       You become a victim who has to take aggressive action against the victimizer, and then you get stuck in a win/lose situation. 

c)       In having direct access to a particular problem, you must realize that you have a responsibility to try and change the problem. We are looking to empower men to be people who can be compassionate to themselves, each other, and the women in their lives.

d)       We must support men to be fully engaged and passionate about life.

e)       Another pit fall is not having enough accountability and focus in the group which lets the drift of life take over and its float up to a level of superficiality and mediocrity, then dissolves. This is why a certain level of accountability and theme or focus is necessary.

f)         Also if you don’t include something that links the members to action in their lives or a greater mission (either the mission of the group or individual mission). If the group has no connection to a greater purpose it can develop a certain degree of cognitive & emotional inbreeding (A professional belly button examination group).

g)       No one-group type is right for everyone, regardless of your vision. Fact is if the vision doesn't involve every man within your realm of influence, perhaps your vision is too narrow.

h)       For any endeavor involving a group to work, there has to be a vision. Additionally, a clearly stated purpose and mission helps to.

i)         Getting stuck in that old story, I ‘have to do it on my own’ in stead of letting men contribute to you by having a ‘buddy’ to work with or a team of men to create the bigger team.

9.       The Fear of Rejection (Fear of Failure)

·         Having a high expectation of success in your first attempt to create a group can have either a positive or negative effect on your self-esteem.

·         Going for the vision you see and learning from what ever happens (in my experiences attending groups in the past is that the leaders feel they have to reach a quota (certain number of people) to have a successful group).

·         If you have 3 men who attend as well as yourself and it works, and you show up and meet on a regular basis, than that is wonderful.

·         The fact that you did your best and put your best effort forward should be seen as a success and not a failure.

·         Remember to enjoy the process, embrace your successes, and learn from your mistakes.

·         This is not just about the group as it is about the man you allowing you to emerge from yourself through your commitment to the men (making sure to include yourself in the picture).

·         Remember that allowing another man to have a profound contribution to YOUR life is one of the greatest gifts you can give!

10.   Conclusion

Thanks for all that you are doing to the community of men and society. Thanks you for taking the time to read this and our intention is that it be of value to you. 

If you view this as a learning experience, what every happens, you can ‘win’ by learning something. So I encourage going out there and ‘win’ by making this a wonderful learning process.  We welcome your feedback of what works as well as other suggestions that would enhance this work.

Martin Brossman is the founder of the “Men’s Inquiry Group”  and a Life Coach by profession. He can be reached at Martin@CoachingSupport.com  (919) 847-4757 .  Mike Hopley  has a personal passion to enhance men’s lives, volunteers part of his time with a community men’s group, is an active member of the on-line men’s inquiry and can be reached at mhopley2003@yahoo.caTo find out more about the men’s inquiry work go to: www.ToInquire.com

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