The Ultimate Leadership Machine

Are you a member of Toastmasters International (TMI)? If not, this post will inspire you to become one.  Here is their website: www.Toastmasters.org

Are you a business leader? If so, this article will show how to grow leaders in-house.

The Ultimate Leadership Institute

The role of leaders in today’s society could never be overstated. The following quotes confirm this simple fact:

  • “Leadership can be thought of as a capacity to define oneself to others in a way that clarifies and expands a vision of the future”- Edwin Friedman.
  • “I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers”, Chirps Ralph Nader.

Nothing can define Toastmasters movement better than the above statements. We are the best in the business of identifying, coaching and delivering leaders on to the world stage every where and all the time.

In October 2007 Issue, Fortune magazine published a newly created list headed: “Top Companies for Leaders“. Alas I wish they would create a similar listing for non-profit organizations too.  Toastmasters International will definitely top this list beating all other non-profitable organizations in the area of leaders’ development

Toastmasters International is “The Ultimate Leadership Institute“. I say this with conviction because Fortune magazine used nine best practices companies use in grooming their future leaders, for evaluating the companies and guess how many practices we use from these nine? All nine! Yes, TMI scores 9 out of 9 points.

Below is a brief outline demonstrating a few of these practices and shows how they are applied through Toastmasters International.

Invest Time and Money:

Toastmasters invest plenty of time developing other Toastmasters. This is done through a mentor-mentee relationship where the mentor coaches the speaker in creating and delivering a speech and guiding the mentee in performing different assignments.  In addition, Toastmasters conduct, lead and present different workshops for other Toastmasters throughout the course of the year to support them in becoming better speakers and leaders.

Toastmasters also invest time in writing articles for different newsletters whereby they share their knowledge and experience with other Toastmasters.

You might think: “Where’s the investment of money?” Well, time is money. Toastmasters who invest their time in Toastmasters’ activities could easily invest this time somewhere else and get paid for it. An Opportunity cost, as called by economists.

Identify Promising Leaders Early

According to Fortune magazine, “Spotting leaders early means working on their development early.” Toastmasters with a high level of potential are identified right from their initial entry, in all leadership levels, whether it was the club or district level, and given the opportunities to shine during their membership in the Toastmasters’ movement.

We could do this by observing the passion, performance and preparation of new members and offering them opportunities to conduct different projects assignments inside and outside the club to learn, grow and be a role model to other Toastmasters.  This measure makes new members more engaged and more productive in the Toastmastering process because they feel appreciated and much needed within the organization.

Choose Assignments Strategically

In Toastmasters, future leaders are given development opportunities to learn and grow. After identifying potential leaders, we entrust them with the best possible assignments within the club meetings so that they could develop different leadership skills.  From conducting and leading a Speech Craft Program to chairing a Division Conference, the Toastmasters’ movement offers a plethora of leadership opportunities.

Toastmasters do not wait to be offered these opportunities; on the contrary, they are encouraged to take a proactive approach in grabbing these opportunities.  For example, I’ve always offered to participate in activities beyond my club, Bahrain Toastmasters Club.  That’s why I received the honor and privilege of becoming the PR Committee Chairperson for the Past International President, DTM Johnny Uy, visit to Bahrain in April 2006. This in itself was a fascinating experience.

Few years ago, Toastmasters International introduced a great tool that helps in developing more leaders – The Competent Leader Manual.  This manual helps in identifying the weaknesses in your skills and abilities and aids you in developing them. This manual helps in developing Toastmasters, at all different levels, and also secures different Leadership Awards in the Leadership Track for the mentors.

Be Passionate about Feedback and Support:

Our organization is the only entity that places evaluation and feedback at the heart of its learning programs.  We all receive feedback on all the assignments we conduct in the Toastmasters arena.  You can easily notice this if you examine our different programs and feedback mechanisms. Positive, constructive and honest feedback is a very important component of toastmastering. The “Effective Speech Evaluation” and the “Competent Leader Manual” are both submitted to every new Toastmaster to ensure they make the best of the available feedback opportunities.

The Evaluation Session during the club meeting is a rich learning experience for both the evaluators and the performers/speakers. All speakers come to know how they performed; they get to know their strengths and areas for improvement. Through the feedback given to performers by mentors and evaluators, improvement plans to achieve higher levels of excellence, are designed.

The evaluation process goes well beyond the club level.  Any performance within the toastmastering arena gets evaluated.  For example, if you deliver a keynote or a training session you will get evaluation forms collected from the attendees after the event to help you improve your future performances.  On another hand, if you conduct a High Performance Leadership Program (HPL), you are provided several manuals to guide you through managing the project assigned to you and a committee that guides you and evaluate your progress during and after the project before you can file it with Toastmasters International.  The HPL program offers instruction and practice in vital leadership skills and activities such as developing a mission and vision, goal-setting, planning, identifying values and building your team.

Encourage Leaders to be Active in their Communities:

Toastmasters are encouraged to contribute to their communities by teaching the values of Toastmasters International —integrity, dedication to excellence and respect for the individual.

In addition, you can use your public speaking and leadership skills in local events by becoming an event’s Chairperson or advisor.  In summary, you as a Toastmaster could become a knowledge transfer agent in the community.

One remarkable method of getting involved in your community is to conduct Speech Crafts Programs and lead Youth Leadership Programs to help young and adult people develop better public speaking and leadership skills to become successful people in their personal and professional lives.

Make Leadership Development Part of the Culture:

Leadership development is at the heart of the Toastmasters’ culture, and also reaches up to Toastmasters International’s vision. All Toastmasters programs revolve around providing members opportunities to become better speakers and leaders.

The Past International President, DTM Chris Ford, believes that through Toastmasters program we can shape our world. His Presidential Theme was: “Shaping Ourselves, Shaping Our World.” Being Toastmasters, we’re half way through. We’re already shaping ourselves through Toastmasters International, and now it’s the role of every Toastmaster to shape the world.

The above brief outline illustrated clearly how Toastmasters International use internationally established best practices to develop its members in the area of leadership.

Isn’t Toastmasters simply amazing?

Hopefully someday we will be recognized officially as the “The Ultimate Leadership Institute”. Whether this becomes a reality or not is totally up to us, to the Toastmasters of the World. As Mahatma Gandhi once said “Be the change you want to see”.

Let’s continue shaping ourselves and shaping our world.

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About Mohamed Isa

Financial Executive, Speaker, Trainer, Author, Speech Coach
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