- When and how it happened that you decided to become District Director?
It was a few years ago, when I was in the middle of my first Division Director’s term, I looked ahead and realized that it would probably be mutually beneficial – for the organization and for myself, if I considered to take the role in the so called District Trio. The District Trio consists of the Club Growth Director (CGD), Program Quality Director (PQD) and District Director (DD). This small team leads the whole District Leadership Team, supervises all activities in the District and is fully responsible for its results. Typically, although not necessarily, you go through the CGD and PQD roles to become the District Director. And, given the fact that after your term as a DD, you spend one year as the Immediate Past District Director and in this role you have a number of responsibilities, it is a four-year commitment. And once you are in, and if you are serious about it, you don’t want to resign in the middle. So it requires careful consideration, some open and honest discussions at home with your family and careful planning. But thenit’s totally worth the effort. In fact what you learn is to lead an organization which is a different thing to leading a team. In such roles you actually lead teams to a common goal, a common vision. It’s very challenging and it’s very rewarding once it works.
- What is your vision for upcoming year?
We are a new District. It means that we can do things exactly as we used to in the old structures or we can find ways to do things better, smarter and more adjusted to the needs of our District. So first of all, with the Team I want to create an operating model for our District-a set of rules which will help us run the organization in our part of the World and make lives of our successors easier. At the same time, from day one we started to realize the District Mission: to build new clubs and support all clubs in achieving excellence. Our target is to help clubs achieve a good membership base, which is at least 30 members per club and to provide much more trainings for Club and District Officers, to raise awareness and foster cooperation. My vision is that at the end of the year, all our clubs, including new clubs, will be strong or very strong which will help us be among the best Districts in the World, maybe even number one!
- What’s in it for you?
It helps me develop my skills and build on my talents. Gallup’s Strenghts Finder says that my top three talents are: strategic approach, communication and arranging resources to achieve goals. All of these are very much present in any of the leadership roles in Toastmasters and the more I get involved in this, the more I can use my talents and build my skills on them. And, well, one thing that makes me go one extra mile even in hard times is when I see people discover their strengths, develop and start using their potential and they start help others grow. In such moments I am just happy. And there’s a lot of such moments in Toastmasters. That’s what’s in it for me!
- How your Toastmasters experience impacted your professional career?
Very, very much – to the extent that I wouldn’t have predicted if you had asked me in the beginning of the journey. Not only can I do any business presentation in a way that exceeds typical corporate standards, not only can I be much more convincing and persuasive when it comes to presenting my case to the stakeholders, not only am I able to prepare and chair an effective meeting, but there’s much more. The feedback I give, the teams I lead, the attitude I have – there’s so much of it that has its source in Toastmasters. Every now and then, I realize that I am able to achieve something because I learned it in Toastmasters. In the meantime, I was admitted to the Professional Speakers Association in Poland where I help promoting high standards in public communication. And I keep learning. All the time. The best thing is that in the current role I can effectively use my skills I developed in my professional career, as a financial controller and process manager, ultimately for the benefit of the members in our district.
- What are your passions except of Toastmasters?
I have three: my lovely family, who supports me all the way through my journey, sport, which helps me keep mental and physical balance and music, which supports my creativity.
- Do you have any advice for someone who would like to handle this role in the future?
Three things, like everything in Toastmasters. First, always remember it’s all about people. It’s not about your goals and ambitions, it’s not about you. It’s people who will invite you to take charge and will want and be ready to set off for the journey with you. So you need to know these people, you need to try to understand them, you need to open to them and accept them as they are, whatever happens. It may sometimes be difficult, but here comes the second part: you need to be assertive. What I mean by this, you can’t take everything personally. The more responsibility you have, the more often you will be a side of the conflict or you will be invited to mediate in the conflict. Never let such situations bring you down. Handle them professionally using the Toastmasters values as guidance and treat each of such difficult situations as a learning opportunity. And third thing: find yourself a mentor. It does not have to be someone in your club, but it should be someone who is or was where you want to be in future. Talk with them, ask them questions, share your views and listen. Having good mentors is extremely important not only in Toastmasters, but in life in general.