“Among the most important benefits is the opportunity to lead. Regardless of career or social status, a member of an organization can participate as a leader and gain skills and experience.” — introduction to Toastmasters Pathways Project: “Leading in Your Volunteer Organization”
In November 2007 I joined Deliotte Management Consulting as Student Analyst. Entering the adult work life was a cold shower. From deciding about budget, program and motivational strategies in a student organization, I downgraded to coloring tables and formating charts in spreadsheets. Still a student back then, I escaped. I decided to support my studies with income of a spinning instructor instead.
After the university, I had to start working “for real”. I joined Accenture, faced the linear view of career progression — and accepted it. “Now I’m young and inexperienced. It’s natural that I will do the work with less freedom to decide and will rely on my more experienced colleagues to make decisions.”
A tragic misconception.
Luckily for me, soon after that I joined Toastmasters. Quickly I took my first leadership position (VP Membership). Suddenly, I had the responsibility to attract entrepreneurs and busienss professionals to our club. The challenge: There was nobody to decide for me. The opportunity: There was nobody to tell me off. I owned the work. I owned the results.
So I started making decisions, creating email templates and leading conversations with the people who visited our club. Many of them were professionals in their forties or fifties. Way further in their careers. But to my surprise — they were willing to listen to me. I was more experienced in what they came for: Toastmasters.
I realized that coloring tables and formatting charts was not really my forte; making plans, decisions and sharing my knowledge was. I found out that there were people who wanted that from me. Interestingly, that realization changed also my attitude to my work in consulting. I started improving my skills so that I could move from taking orders to making decisions and plans.
“One of the most important goals in any volunteer organization is to elevate members to the ranks of leaders.” — in Toastmasters Pathways Project: “Leading in Your Volunteer Organization”
Full disclosure: I have my stakes in this. I want you to become a leader. Our organization needs leaders like you to thrive. But maybe that’s a good thing. Becoming a leader in Toastmasters can be a springboard for you to leadership positions in your “real” life. With leadership positions comes more responsibility, freedom and recognition.
What is the first step? Now is a good time to consider applying for one of the District Executive Committee roles. Anytime is a good time to talk to your Club President or Area Director and ask if they need help.
You’ll be surprised where such a simple conversation can take you.
Author: Lukas Liebich, D110 PQD