Stepping up to leadership

Aletta Rochat, DTM

International Director

Past District Director

On the surface, serving as a leader might not seem attractive. Let’s face it you’re already busy. The thought of taking on more responsibility, (a.k.a.more stress), for no pay might not appear to be a wise choice. Sure you might get to be the custodian of a title for a few months, and even have a badge with the fancy title on it, but is that enough? You might be wondering – What’s in it for me?

In my experience, serving as a leader in Toastmasters is an incredibly enriching experience. You’ll learn about yourself, learn about leading others, (who don’t have to listen to you) and learn about leading a team. You’ll emerge more confident, more aware of your strengths and the positive impact you can have. No doubt you’ll learn new skills as you do things you’ve never done before. There will be times when you might struggle. There are times in the year which are super busy from a Toastmasters perspective. Your team might be made up of some ‘interesting characters’ very different to you. As you develop your leadership skills, you develop yourself. The reward is not the badge or the title. The reward is a better version of you.

Everything you learn as a Toastmasters leader cascades into other areas of your life. You take the new skills, insights and abilities to your home and family. That assertiveness you develop is taken to your place of work, or to an association you are passionate about. Perhaps the biggest reward of all is the opportunity you get to develop others. Seeing someone else grow in confidence, and knowing that you played a small part in that growth, is mind-blowingly satisfying.

So why am I still serving as a leader in this organisation, 12 years after joining?  I’m still learning and growing. I’m still being challenged. I’m still blown away by the transformation I see in myself and in those around me. To cut a long story short, the rewards are still many multiples of the effort I put in. There are days when it can be a struggle. Luckily I have mentors to help me.

If you’re debating whether or not to raise your hand for a leadership role, here’s my advice:

  1. Raise your hand. Opportunity will come your way after you raise your hand to get involved.
  2. Give it your all. Your contribution matters. Others rely on you and look up to you. Don’t let them or yourself down.
  3. Get a mentor. Don’t walk this path alone. A mentor is not an optional extra.

One year from now, you’ll be amazed how much progress you’ve made. More importantly, you’ll be humbled to see how your contribution impacted the lives of those you are serving with and who you serve. The better version of yourself will smile, knowing that all the effort was worth it. You’ll be looking around to see who else you can encourage to raise their hand for leadership.