The tagline is “Where leaders are made”. It is surely not as simple as “just add water”, nor is it a complex recipe of rare-earth minerals combined at high pressures and volcanic temperatures. But there is a method, and it is fool-proof (just look at me!). Some people may be born with innate tendencies that are useful to leadership, but we can all develop to be the leaders we want to be, through practice and feedback, in an environment that is supportive, forgiving and even encourages mistakes (often the best way to learn).
Toastmasters provides a myriad of platforms for us to hone our leadership skills – starting with speaking projects in the club, taking on roles at club events, and building up to office roles at club level, District level and beyond. These opportunities assist in unearthing our leadership styles, learning what works and what doesn’t, and finding how to build up teams and harness the best of their members.
Every year clubs and District (including Areas, Divisions and Cabinet) undergo a leadership change and every position is open to a new member to take up the challenge. Under the current District alignment that would mean 62 new leaders at District level and 1 358 at club level; and these do not include the assistant officers in the clubs, assistants at Area and Divisions and coordinators at District that keep the ship moving along. There are clubs that are also looking for coaches to assist them to reach their potential, while District officers are always on the lookout for volunteers to sponsor or mentor new clubs.
There are also opportunities in running special club events (we have the Smedley Award membership building campaign coming up – just a hint), contests, training workshops, Speechcraft or Youth Leadership courses. All of these require someone to take a central leadership role and working with a team to execute a successful event or programme. The High Performance Leadership programme provides invaluable guidance in how to put your vision into action, and can be used in any project where you lead a team.
Have you considered putting your hand up for one of these roles? Each of us can develop the skills to become the leader we aspire to be, but only by taking on the opportunities around us. Volunteer with a club officer, Area Director, Division Director or Cabinet member to take on a responsibility, face the challenge and put those lessons into practice. When you lead a team in the Toastmasters environment you develop the skills you can put into practice in the work place – for example, running a Speechcraft training programme (which required coordinating a number of trainers and facilitators) will help you engage in training programmes for work colleagues and team members, developing skills regarding training outcomes and creative approaches to impart understanding.
As the District Leadership Committee chair, I will be looking out for potential leaders for District for next year. Aletta Rochat has recently been appointed the District Leadership Mentoring Coordinator where her focus will be guiding leaders (current and future) in terms of their leadership journey. Please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org and between Aletta and I we can discuss the opportunities available to you.
Keith Bowen DTM
Immediate Past District Director