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July 2024
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Take the Time to Form an Effective Team

By Morag Mathieson, DTM

Toastmasters International President Morag Mathieson
Morag Mathieson, DTM

After inducting the other new club officers, Suzanne, the installing officer read out the duties of the Club President before offering Christian the ceremonial gavel, a symbol of the Club President’s authority. She highlighted that Christian is now both a member and a leader of the team. That team, like every team, is more than just a group of people.

Teams are an emotional force rooted in the feelings, thoughts, and actions of all members, with the common goal of achievement, sharing, and mutual support. When team members work well together, they create a healthy, dynamic club.

Like all teams, Christian’s team will face stages of forming, storming, norming, and performing. Their challenge is to work through each stage as expeditiously as they can to arrive at the performing one quickly. It is in that stage that teammates can most enjoy their work, see achievements realized, and appreciate each other as unique individuals and trusted colleagues. It’s also the phase that will bring the most benefit to the club.

Right after forming, the storming phase may begin while the team is getting to know each other—each person’s styles and ways of working—and building a foundation of trust. At the same time, the leader is figuring out the best way to lead that team.

Teams need to spend time getting to know each other, allowing people to understand the person behind the position, and giving each other the insights needed to grow trust. Leaders need to purposefully create a sense of psychological safety where people feel comfortable speaking openly and honestly, allowing them to build trust.

When team members work well together, they create a healthy, dynamic club.

Leaders who check in regularly with their team members open up opportunities for reflection and offer a safe place for those who feel more comfortable sharing individually rather than in a group.

Effective teamwork creates synergy, bringing together individual perspectives, experiences, and skills, all of which enable the team to find creative solutions to meet their goals and confront their challenges. Working together effectively also allows team members to support and learn from each other, creating a sense of belonging and commitment.

It helps to remember the words of Executive Coach Barbara Glacel, “A team is more than a collection of people. It is a process of give and take.”

I believe Christian and his team will have a successful year together. I believe your club leadership team will too, especially when you navigate the storm and reach the calmer waters of performing.

Have a wonderful new Toastmasters year!

Morag Mathieson, DTM

2023–2024 International President


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