To Lead Your Team, You Must Know Your Team

  • December 9, 2019 by Stefano McGhee, DTM, Region 9 International Director
group of business people talking

“We empower individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders.” That is the mission of Toastmasters International. When we think about leadership, it is important to realize that you can’t lead without a team. Toastmasters has many opportunities to lead teams at the Club, District, and International levels. How do you develop and improve as a leader? In our organization, we encourage experimentation and expect challenges that may get the best of us. However, our organization also provides supportive mentors to recover and sharpen our abilities.

What does it mean to lead a team? It means truly knowing your team. In order to know your team, you have to understand what drives them, what they do and don’t like, and what they hope to get out of their experience. Figuring out the details of your team members is time-consuming! Each of us may be working on a career (or two), family, friends, and other hobbies that compete with our leadership journey for our limited time. It’s easy to put “getting to know your team” at the bottom of your list because you can always “do it later”. Don’t. Spend the time to get to know the teams you lead. When you spend some of your precious time and give it to learn more about your team members, you invest in their success as well as your own. When you spend the time to get to know your team, you become better able to motivate them and focus on their particular goals. When you focus on your team, they will focus on the team’s goals and achieve success.

In my military career, I frequently heard that the commander’s job was to take care of his/her people and the people would take care of the mission. This applies to Toastmasters as well. Invest in your people and get to know them. They will then provide the means to achieve success. You can’t lead without a team. The team can’t succeed without a leader. Toastmasters is Where Leaders Are Made.