One of the most neglected aspects of a group’s dynamic is the emotional atmosphere. This doesn’t mean how the meetings are conducted or the speeches are given or the evaluations are presented. It’s not about the process, it’s about the feeling. You can have a very formal environment for a club meeting and still not be cold. You can have a very social environment for a meeting and not be warm and inviting. It all has to do with the emotional responses of the members to each other and to the organization.
This is the morale of the group–the feelings of enthusiasm and loyalty that a person or group has about a task or job. It can make or break an organization. One of the clubs I belong to has a past international director as a member. He has two DTMs and is working on a third. His first came under the early system with the Competent Toastmaster, Advanced Toastmaster, DTM, before the Gold, Silver, and Bronze system. He got a certificate. Then the Legacy program offered a plaque for DTM, so he got that one. Now he’s working on a Pathways DTM. He’s enthusiastic enough to continue the programs to improve his delivery and messages. Though he may not always agree with the International vision, he’s always supporting, mentoring, sponsoring, and serving the local district and his clubs. He could be described as a cheerleader. He does not exhibit an emotional personality and he is muted in his language and visible displays. When he was District Governor, the District was designated Distinguished due to his leadership.
Another cheerleader I know is also a former District Governor. She has seven DTMs and has been a Toastmaster for only eight or nine years. She loves spreadsheets and order. She hates chaos. She makes it a habit to always find the good in a person or a group. You will rarely see her when she isn’t smiling.
Yet, when she was the District Governor, she had a furrowed brow and serious demeanor all the time. She had come face to face with circumstances and situations that were not entirely under her control. She cared so much for the District and felt personally responsible for every failure and every short-coming of her leadership team–the trio that was chronically short one member, the support staff (secretary, treasurer, PR, and logistics) that didn’t live up to their responsibilities, the division governors and the area governors that didn’t seem to care about their members, and the apathetic club leaders. Most of the speeches she gave at the monthly meetings were to urge people to care.
It wasn’t until she got out of District leadership that her cheerful mood returned. As a successful coach, she could bring the morale of a group up at least two notches just by walking into the room. She is high-energy and a morale-building machine. Unfortunately, she did not have that effect on the District when she was the Governor.
How do you influence the morale of a group such as a club? How does that affect the morale of the district?