Twice each year our local Toastmasters club leaders participate in a half-day workshop on how to effectively lead their club. Sometimes the sessions stretch to a full-day with additional sessions on communication and leadership topics.
I attended another Toastmasters club officer training session recently. It was one of countless training sessions I have attended over 15 years as a Toastmaster. Once again I left the session having learned something I didn’t know beforehand.
I often hear club officers say they don’t attend the training because they have been an officer before and know the role. Some complain about having to give up some of the only free day they get during the week. others don’t feel trading this time is worthwhile. Although I understand the sentiments, I am sad either of these mindsets exist.
I continue to attend club leader training even when I’m not serving as a club officer for 3 important reasons.
1. There is always something new to learn.
“I had no idea!” I’ve said these words many times at a club leader training session. It isn’t usually an earth shattering revelation that made me say this. It may have been a helpful tip or a new way of looking at an old problem that triggers my thinking.
Because these sessions are hosted by experienced Toastmasters they often contain nuggets of information that I haven’t heard before, or perhaps some information that I might have previously missed. Many of my aha! moments come when other leaders share their successes with the group.
2. Sharing best practices makes our club better.
Every club has its own way of doing things. Its own culture if you will. When leadership passes from one member to another, culture is passed on. Traditions both good and bad are also passed on. When we don’t have any outside input into how we operate it’s difficult to know whether we’re performing our roles effectively. When we gather with other leaders we can begin to assess how effective we are.
By attending club leader training we have the chance to collaborate with other leaders and share successes and challenges. We can learn how others achieve success and handle difficulty. By openly sharing both good and bad we realize that we are not alone in facing difficulty and that others can learn from our success. My club has benefited from a number of changes made as the result of what was shared during training.
3. Stepping outside the club opens a whole new world.
Many people join Toastmasters and never participate outside of their club. Their view of Toastmasters is limited to what they experience at regular club meetings. They never truly realize the potential of the Toastmasters Program.
Over the years, as I have participated in club leader training I have met many Toastmasters who have become friends. Because I decided to step outside of my club I have made friendships that have enriched me both personally and professionally. I have collaborated with many of these Toastmaster friends on projects and have been able to call on them for advise and assistance.
By attending club leader training I began to appreciate the opportunities for personal growth that Toastmasters affords. Because of my exposure to the bigger picture I decided to pursue leadership opportunities outside of my club. I became a district officer, I worked on a district conference committee, I helped out as a guidance committee member for a member from another club who was doing a High performance Leadership project. A whole new world of possibility truly opened up for me.
The next time club leader training is offered to your club leaders, don’t pass up the opportunity to participate. Attend the training whether you are a club leader or not. You’ll learn something, you’ll share something, and a whole new world will open up to you.