As I await my early morning train to work, I reflect on my experiences in non-profit leadership, specifically with District 4 Toastmasters. My first thought is how this compares to the corporate world and other non-profits I’ve led. In my opinion, the leadership program in District 4 Toastmasters is one of the most valuable for the reasons below.
1. Master the Art of Influence
Being a Toastmasters club officer is very hands-on, and it’s relatively simple for the team to shape the member experience. To be a successful district leader, however, you must master the art of influencing others in a positive way. It’s not enough to delegate tasks.
Building meaningful relationships happen when you couple constructive feedback with words of encouragement. You learn to support your team of area and club leaders, who in turn carry out the Toastmasters club mission. Better yet, applying these skills at work will help your organization reach the next level.
2. Formulate & Communicate Your Vision
When I ran a contested election race in my home Toastmasters club, I received some great advice from a past district leader: “Tell the members your vision for the club.” I did exactly that in front of my fellow club members, sharing my desire for excellence and new leadership. Then I asked for their vote. It worked!
The following year, I replaced an Area Director. The thoroughness of the process and knowledge transfer was impressive. I met with the District Director, Division Director, and outgoing Area Director to ensure I had a clear understanding of the position. This was helpful for developing my leadership vision for the year as I supported my fellow leaders and clubs.
3. Learn New Team-Building Ideas
Board meetings for the District Executive Council (DEC) are always well thought-out with interesting topics and activities. As a district leader, we’re encouraged to brainstorm fun team-building events like an Escape Room (we escaped!) and Sandbox VR (we fought off skeletons in a virtual reality simulation called “The Curse of Davey Jones”).
These activities were paid-for by the individual team members, who were more than willing to participate, showing the value of these engaging exercises. Most of all, they opened my eyes to some of the skills of leaders around me. What thoughtful and intelligent Toastmasters I have the privilege of serving with!
4. Gain Lifelong Friendships
One of the best benefits of district leadership are the lifelong friendships I’ve built with people I wouldn’t have otherwise met. This includes going to the International Convention, where I spent quality time with fellow Toastmasters I only saw at meetings, contests, and trainings. I got to know them on a deeper level and even made connections with Toastmasters around the world!
Is District Leadership for you?
In my opinion, the answer to this question is a resounding YES! While it does require extra time and effort, the pesonal and professional benefits will serve you for many years to come. So get out of your comfort zone, step up, and apply today! Click here to learn more.