As I talk to members around the world, I’m often asked, “Why should I take on a leadership role in Toastmasters?” What I think they’re really asking is what’s in it for me?
Early in my Toastmasters membership, I was faced with the same question. The club leadership committee came to me and asked me to take on a club officer role, the role of Vice President Education, and I had to think about it. Did I have the time and the commitment to do the job properly? More importantly, what could I learn while doing the job?
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Toastmasters’ leadership roles have two purposes. One is to provide the necessary function for the club or the District. The second one, the more important one, is to provide an opportunity for you to learn and grow as you take on new leadership tasks. Every leadership role has transferable skills. Club officers learn how to lead a small team. They learn how to budget effectively for the club. They learn how to manage paperwork and administer meetings.
For many members, the Area Director role is the first District-level role they take on. That role might be someone’s first opportunity to lead a team without having any authority. The Area Director’s primary role is to partner with club leaders to brainstorm and carry out solutions. They must learn to use personal influence to affect the thoughts and actions of those around them.
The most important purpose of taking on a leadership role is to provide an opportunity for you to learn and grow as you take on new leadership tasks.
When you get to the District level of leadership, you really start learning executive leadership. You’re no longer an individual contributor. You’re expected to lead a team of people to accomplish the District mission: start new clubs and help all clubs achieve excellence. And in that process, you learn valuable skills that will make you more confident as a leader, skills you can then apply to a community organization, your family, or your business.
So when members ask me: “What do you get from being a Toastmasters leader? Why should I take on a club officer role or a District-level role?” I tell them without reservation that they will become a more confident leader. They will have the opportunity to gain new skills and accomplish things they didn’t know were possible.
I know that’s been the case for me, and I believe it will be the case for you as well.
Matt Kinsey, DTM
Matt Kinsey, DTM is the 2022—2023 International President of Toastmasters International. Learn more about him on the Board of Directors page.