The world needs you to step up and lead. Your ability to come up with practical solutions that serve your community has never been more in demand as it is today. This is where Toastmasters has come through for me. I used to believe learning leadership and practising leadership was the same until I practised leadership in Toastmasters.
Take for instance, since I was 11, when I was appointed School Prefect I was taught the value of teamwork at Leadership Camp. It was not until I was appointed Area Governor in Toastmasters that I appreciated the value of teamwork. It was not out of my wisdom or intelligence that I started appreciating teamwork but, circumstances in the role that forced me to appreciate teamwork.
A few months after joining Toastmasters I became part of the Executive Committee of my club. After a few interactions with my new team I found that I did not agree with the standard of performance of some of my team members. Instead of helping them deliver in their roles, I did what Frank knows best – do it himself. Before long, I was doing everyone’s work on the Executive Committee including those who were actively involved in their roles. As if that was not enough, I joined a second club, became part of the Executive and also started doing everyone’s job too because let’s face it, no-one performed tasks as well as I did. The situation escalated until the year I was appointed Area Governor.
If you thought you were Super Wo/man, try doing everything in 5 clubs! Surprisingly, I discovered Frank had limited capacity. I was forced to ask for help. I shortlisted a few individuals whom I believed I would work well with. When I approached them for assistance, they were all not available to help. I was left stranded until I was forced to recognise that I had an Area Council (Club Presidents, VPEs and VPMs) in my areas who were supposed to be a core part of my team even if they were not my preferred choice.
As expected, they didn’t perform to my liking however, something magical happened after 3/4/20 attempts, they started performing to my expectations. After another 3/4/20 attempts, they performed better than I could ever imagine could be done. At all occasions, they came to me and thanked me for helping them perform better. I also discovered that as my team performed better, I didn’t have to worry about nitty-gritties and could focus on bigger responsibilities. It is only then that I dawned on me that if I entertained any chance of assuming bigger leadership responsibilities it was imperative that I stopped making everything about me and start working with teams.
If it were not for the dilemma I encountered while practicing leadership as an Area Governor, I may have still been told multiple times to work with teams but, I am not sure whether I would appreciate today the value of being less self-centred and working with teams. That is why I have remained a Toastmaster until today, for the numerous practical opportunities I get to practise leadership.
I would like to encourage you today to seize the moment and practise leadership at any level in Toastmasters. Instead of just learning leadership theory – we live in a world which is evolving at a rate faster than it has ever been before and we are dealing with more complex generations of people, all of which are probably not documented in the theory in most books. Toastmasters can help you to cover this gap. All you need to do is to volunteer for a leadership role – to organise a contest/membership campaign, join a club sub-committee or put your hand up to serve as a club/district officer. I promise you this will be an experience that will bring you up to speed with challenges of today in leadership that will serve you well out there.
The world needs you to step up and lead. Renew your membership with Toastmasters, embrace the opportunity to practise leadership and you will bring to the table practical solutions that will serve your community’s challenge of today.
Frank Tsuro DTM